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^RANCIS JOSEPH OF AUSTRIA 









I ? BY-THE-AUTHOR'OF I 

I- MART YRDOM-OF-AN'EMPRE SS 







/ 



OF CALIF. LIBRAEY fJ LOS ANGELES 



A KEYSTONE 
OF EMPIRE 

FRANCIS JOSEPH OF AUSTRIA 

BY THE AUTHOR OF 

"THE MARTYRDOM OF 
AN EMPRESS" 



ILLUSTRATED 




HARPER r BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 
NEW YORK AND LONDON 

1903 



Copyright, 1903, by HARPER & BROTHERS. 

AU rights reserved. 
Published November, 1903 




TO HIS MAJESTY 

FRANCIS-JOSEPH, EMPEROR-KING OF AUSTRO-HUNGARY 
IN MEMORY OF FORMER DAYS 

Remembering all the beauty of that star 
Which shone so close beside Thee that ye made 
One light together, but has past, and leaves 
The Crown a lonely splendor. 



1SI 



2128687 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

FRANCIS-JOSEPH Frontispiece 

ERGHCRZOG CARL LUDWIG Facing p. l6 

EMPEROR FRANCIS I. (GRANDFATHER OF FRANCIS- 
JOSEPH) AND EMPRESS CAROLINE IN THE IM- 
PERIAL BOX AT THE THEATRE .... 28 

A "BALL-BEI-HOF" AT THE BURG 38 

THE EMPEROR'S BAPTISM OF FIRE AT SANTA LUCIA " 46 

FRANCIS-JOSEPH IN 1848 98 

A SPEECH FROM THE THRONE 122 

EMPEROR FRANCIS-JOSEPH IN HIS ROBES OF STATE 158 
THE "WASHING OF THE FEET," ON THURSDAY OF 
HOLY WEEK, IN THE GREAT HALL OF CERE- 
MONIES AT THE HOFBURG 168 

THE CORPUS CHRISTI PROCESSION 178 

THE EMPEROR'S PRIVATE HALL OF AUDIENCE ~| 

IN THE HOFBURG j> " 22O 

SCHLOSS LAXENBURG J 

"ERZSI," ARCHDUCHESS ELIZABETH NOW PRIN- 
CESS OTTO VON WINDISCHGRATZ GRAND- 
DAUGHTER OF THE EMPEROR 244 

ARCHDUKE RAINER " 266 

A LITTLE PETITIONER " 282 

THE EMPEROR'S PRIVATE SALON IN THE HOFBURG " 298 
A FUTURE EMPEROR. ARCHDUKE KARL-FRANZ, 
SON OF THE HEIR-PRESUMPTIVE, ARCHDUKE 

OTTO " 3IO 

V 



A mighty Keystone shouldering up the span 
Of a gray arch of Empire, while below 
Threatens a torrent black and fierce of flow 
That ill-wrought masonry uncouth of plan. 
All strange, dissimilar stones the quarry can 
Yield, East or Southward, in a helpless row 
Let ponderously their great bulks inward go 
And lean upon it, bearing like a man. 

Pray Heaven it hold! and when Time crumble it 
May naught unworthy take that high command 
But granite strengthened by the shock of seas. 
And thus true-centred, well and firmly knit 
Austria, by ages honored, still withstand 
The crush and turmoil of the centuries. 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 



CHAPTER I 

THE great park was smiling with the new, clean- 
washed radiance of spring, under a velvety blue sky, 
seen through the tender foliage of veteran trees, stretch- 
ing their mighty arms greedily towards the golden sun- 
rays. 

On the mossy edge of a fountain stood a baby rosy, 
chubby, golden -haired, and blue-eyed peering intently 
into the transparent water, wherein the squat body of 
a big, green frog reposed comfortably upon a miniature 
bowlder, his round, topaz eyes gleaming just above the 
surface. 

Plainly the frog was sunk in a deep reverie, revolving 
in his round, flat head queer, mysterious water secrets, 
and regretful memories of long, lazy summer days spent 
amid the tangle of oozy weeds carpeting his native 
brook. Now, alas! he was old and cynical and heavy, 
contemptuously silent, and quite undisturbed by the 
gay little figure so perilously balanced on the slippery 
bastions of his splendid prison. 

The baby, fascinated by the yellow, glittering eyes of 
the monster, extended a dimpled, pink -palmed hand, 
and, bending forward, tried to touch ever so gently the 
top of the shining, partly immersed head. Almost was 
the deed accomplished, almost had the little fingers 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

caressed the imperturbable water-god, a soft, purling, 
victorious laugh thrilled the morning quiet ; then came 
a splash, a cry of terror, and the future high and puissant 
Emperor of Austro-Hungary lay on his little round nose, 
at the bottom of the fountain! 

The water-plants rocked with a violence hitherto 
quite unknown to those decorous, admirably tended 
growths, while scores of birds, with a loud whir of 
startled wings, rose from their twittering councils in 
the scented thickets hard by; finches, nightingales, 
robins, and even gray -clad, ubiquitous little sparrows 
raising alike shrill cries of amazement and alarm, and 
for a short moment the out-door world stood still as 
though time had ceased to be while the fate of a great 
empire, and that of a tiny, dimpled toddler, hung in the 
balance. Then the sound of hurried feet came down 
a shaded avenue, where the sun, glancing through dainty 
clouds of tender green, dappled the gravel -path with 
rosy spots, and a young gardener's assistant, attracted 
by the cries of the birds and moved by an inexplicable 
but overwhelming impulse, ran straight to where the 
white form of the little Archduke still feebly struggled 
among the lily-pads. 

With a wildly beating heart, and a choking sensation 
in his throat, he snatched the half -drowned mite from 
the water, and ran at full speed towards the castle, where 
the careless attendants who had allowed the child to 
stray away had already given the alarm, for a knot of 
people were running excitedly down the marble steps 
of the upper terraces, and crying out confusedly to one 
another, as if almost distraught. 

One tall, graceful figure, however, guided by an 
unerring mother-instinct, flew down the path taken by 
the young gardener and his precious burden, and Arch- 
duchess Sophia, with her beautiful hair streaming loose 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

upon her shoulders, her face white and haggard, her 
trembling lips unable to form a word, stretched implor- 
ing arms towards the lad, her usual icy, proud composure 
completely shattered by overpowering anguish. 

"He is not hurt, Kaiserliche Hoheit, not a bit the 
worse," he shouted joyfully, thrusting the boy into his 
mother's arms; and then, smitten with a sudden, paralyz- 
ing shyness, which made the blood tingle like fire through 
his veins, he turned on his heel and, without waiting 
for thanks or reward, ran off as fast as he could put foot 
to the ground. 

********* 
********* 
On the 1 8th of August, 1830, a salute of one hundred 
and one guns had proclaimed to the good citizens of 
Vienna that yet another Prince had been born to the 
Imperial House of Habsburg. Later on the Wiener 
Zeitung published a bulletin of which the following is a 
literal translation: 

"Her Imperial Highness Archduchess Sophia, wife of his 
Imperial Highness Archduke Franz-Karl, and daughter-in-law 
of his Imperial Majesty Francis I., has been happily delivered 
of a son at the Imperial Palace of Schonbrunn. Her Imperial 
Highness and the Imperial Babe are both in a satisfactory 
condition. The christening will take place to-morrow at the 
Palace of Schonbrunn, and will be followed by a Cercle." 

The birth of this particular little Archduke was greeted 
with joy not only by the Emperor's loyal subjects, but 
by the entire House of Habsburg, for obvious reasons. 
To begin with, the then reigning Emperor, Francis I., had 
never been robust, for ever since the injuries received 
by him at the battle of Lugos, during the war with the 
Turks, to which he had in 1788 accompanied his uncle 
and predecessor Emperor Joseph, his chest had remained 

3 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

delicate, and it was always greatly feared lest any 
shock or overstrain of the nerves or the brain should 
precipitate him into the grave, leaving the throne vacant 
for his weak-minded and unpopular son Ferdinand, 
who had no issue, and was looked upon as a most un- 
desirable successor to his kind-hearted and conscientious 
father. Nor were the people of Austro-Hungary, or, for 
the matter of that, the Imperial Family, very eager to 
see Ferdinand's younger brother, Archduke Franz-Karl, 
assume the reins of government should it become nec- 
essary to pass over the former, for, although the most 
upright and just of men, his tastes were far more quiet 
and domestic than political, and he was of so very kindly 
a disposition that his heart always overruled his head; 
not the best of recommendations for a monarch beneath 
whose sceptre a score of different races and peoples 
exist, creating and fomenting unceasing conflicts, which 
can alone be subdued by an iron hand in a vefvet glove. 
It will, therefore, be readily understood that the neces- 
sity for a fit and proper heir to the heavy Dual Crown 
was bitterly felt, and hence the rejoicing occasioned by 
the birth of Francis-Joseph, who, none doubted, would be 
brought up in every particular as an Emperor should 
be by his mother, the shrewd, clever, and determined 
Archduchess Sophia; a maitresse femme if ever there 
was one. 

Myriads of roses were glowing upon the velvety lawns of 
Schonbrunn and the warm beams of summer sun danced 
on the tall jets of the fountains in the Pleasaunce, when 
the handsome, vigorous, Archducal baby was for the 
first time carried into open air. Beside the stately, 
Junoesque wet-nurse in her gorgeous Tyrolese costume, 
proudly bearing in her arms the white chrysalis from 
which an emperor would presently emerge, walked no 
less a personage than Francis I. himself, his pale, drawn 

4 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

fage transfigured by a profound and all - engrossing 
tenderness the sincerest, deepest, purest feeling of his 
whole existence as he gazed through its soft, snowy 
lace veils at the small, pink visage of his grandson. 

Day by day he accompanied the baby to the gardens, 
and thus in that lovely place and season began what 
was to become a very touching companionship between 
the weary, disappointed, deeply embittered sovereign 
and the tiny mite destined to inherit the crown which 
he himself had found so truly one of thorns. 

The two were seldom far apart, and as soon as the 
child could walk he found no readier playfellow, no 
more patient attendant than his beloved Grot a charm- 
ing corruption of the as yet unpronounceable Gross- 
vater over whom he could tyrannize to his heart's 
content. Indeed, a disposition less sweet might have 
been totally ruined by such an adoring affection as that 
lavished upon him by the doting old man; but little 
" Franzi "was an exception to the general rule, and passed 
unscathed through the trying ordeal, despite his mother's 
gloomy prognostications. It was a touching sight to 
watch the spare, stooping figure of the monarch bend 
yet lower to put himself on the level of the child, or to 
see his stern blue eyes softening and smiling, and his 
usually knitted brows smooth themselves under his 
silver locks when the little one appeared on the scene. 

The old Emperor was passionately fond of birds and 
flowers, and he initiated his little grandson at the ear- 
liest possible age into the mysteries of natural history 
and botany not, however, the cruel, insensate sciences 
which prompt the student to tear apart the satiny 
petals of delicate blooms in order to dissect their tender 
hearts, or to pull to pieces the velvet wings of butter- 
flies, and the emerald corselets of rose-beetles while they 
still live and flutter, or after they have been done to 

5 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

death with ammonia, ether, or worse yet with tort- 
uring pins that have fastened their poor little quivering 
bodies to corks for long days of agony. No! No! 
Francis I., whom historians, especially German ones, 
have not hesitated to accuse of utter heartlessness, 
harshness, craftiness, and a decided leaning towards 
refined cruelty, would not have hurt an insect or even a 
flower for any consideration. 

His favorite playgrounds for his little grandson were in 
winter the magnificent winter-gardens, communicating 
with the private apartments at the Hofburg, and in sum- 
mer the gorgeous parks and greenhouses of Schonbrunn 
and Laxenburg, where the quaintly assorted pair devoted 
many hours to floriculture. Often they would walk all 
alone and hand in hand under the grand elms and walnut- 
trees of the Imperial Park, watching wonderful nature 
the pale primroses peeping through dark mosses, the tur- 
quoise wings of the blue-jays fluttering in the branches, 
the shy, brown squirrels swinging among the hazel-bush- 
es, and the gold-fish, glowing like flames or animated 
jewels, everlastingly touring in the gigantic fountain- 
basin, where " Franzi " had nearly found his death. In- 
deed, this last was one of their greatest delights, and when 
the greedy swarm opened and shut their bland, cavernous 
mouths in catching crumbs, and swallowed them with a 
coldly contented flicker of their gold-rimmed eyes, the 
little boy's laughter would ring out in ecstasy and be 
echoed by the low, repressed merriment of his much- 
pleased Grot. 

Poor Archduchess Sophia! even her omnipotence 
stopped short of the power required to separate these 
two, although she employed her finest strategy and her 
cleverest plannings and plottings to that end, for she 
was greatly alarmed lest her beloved boy should escape 
from under her Spartan rule, and be over-indulged and 

6 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

encouraged to disobey her by that meek Autocrat, his 
Most Catholic Majesty, Francis I. But the bond be- 
tween " Franzi " and his Grot proved unbreakable, and 
remained so until death closed the sad, tired eyes of the 
fond old grandfather, whom his subjects called the 
People's Emperor, because he was truly their spiritual 
father, in spite of all that the. jaundiced works of Hor- 
mayr and others may say to the contrary. 

Archduchess Sophia was at that time a beautiful 
woman, possessed of supreme distinction and of that 
dignity of bearing which is the appanage of ancient 
lineage and of long traditions of courtesy and culture. 
Her every gesture was harmonious and reposeful, and 
her cameo-like features bore a calm, proud, cold ex- 
pression, denoting perfect self-reliance. In her character 
an inextinguishable thirst for power, a disposition to 
exercise too despotic a will and to show herself con- 
temptuous of any dictates but her own, and a distinct 
leaning towards intolerance, were curiously blended with 
a strong sense of duty and responsibility that rendered 
her unsparing of herself and untiring in her numerous 
charities. 

"Sophia," her father-in-law once said, "has it in her 
to be a second Maria-Theresa. She brooks no con- 
tradiction, no opposition of any kind. She is overbear- 
ing and autocratic; but even her faults are noble ones, 
and had I myself had a few such the country would have 
greatly benefited thereby!" 

Indeed, the Archduchess would have been an ideal 
ruler for a realm so difficult to keep in order as Austro- 
Hungary, for she would have known without a per- 
adventure how to repress and discourage all tendencies 
to revolt and rioting long ere the time when grave 
revolutionary outbreaks sapped the very foundations 
of the Empire. 

7 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Her undeniable nobility of temper, her inexorable 
pride and stem clearness of judgment, clothed her in an 
unyielding armor, and she serenely pursued her way in 
life unhampered by any feminine weakness of mind or 
body, walking as it were in the gratifying conviction 
that she at least could do no wrong. That this convic- 
tion carried her too far at times is sufficiently known. 
It has often been said that she was unscrupulous. This 
she was not in any ordinary sense, and as for the political 
interpretation of the word, everybody knows that its 
extreme elasticity permits any historical scribbler to 
stretch it enough to cover offences against his own 
personal tastes and opinions. Indeed, there is no mas- 
ter of statecraft, no energetic and painstaking prime- 
minister, or for the matter of that no successful politician 
of whatsoever color or inclination, who has not been 
laid under this accusation. 

A hard, cold, determined woman, if you will, was 
Archduchess Sophia, who would have been sufficiently 
remarkable in any age for her total lack of gentleness and 
softness, and was much more so in a time of vaporous, 
languorous femininities; a woman more likely to be 
feared and admired than loved even in her own im- 
mediate family ; a woman capable of causing the greatest 
pain to those nearest to her, by her firm belief in the 
superiority of her own judgment, and her steady resolu- 
tion to uphold it against any other; but a woman of a 
large and fine moral mould, in no way paltry or mean. 
Moreover, she was certainly neither the remorseless in- 
trigante nor the Machiavellian schemer she has been 
represented to be. 

Her excessive severity, fortunately for little " Franzi," 
was counter - balanced by the infinite tenderness and 
boundless leniency displayed towards him by the lad's 
Imperial grandfather, and was still further mitigated 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

tf 

by the absolute adoration of the child's father, Archduke 

Franz-Karl. 

The accepted opinion about this Prince will have it 
that he was a rather colorless, insignificant gentleman, 
solicitous only about his own comfort, decidedly self- 
ish, and so remarkably eager to avoid any exertion, 
trouble, or fatigue that he allowed himself to pass for 
a total nonentity. This, as a matter of fact, is a 
very unfair and unjust portrayal of the generous, gold- 
en-hearted man who throughout a long life abhorred 
the very idea of giving pain to others. Moreover, his 
intense and bitterly criticised love of peace, and his 
much-derided dread of any sort of quarrel, were without 
a doubt engendered by the terror which filled his earliest 
recollections of those dreadful days in 1805 and 1807 
when Napoleon drove the Imperial Family of Habsburg 
from their beloved city of Vienna at the point of the 
sword, as one might say. From these troubled times 
of his childhood the winning sweetness of his ways also 
took its origin. Indeed, far from being self-centred or 
an egotist, he was most wonderfully unselfish, living 
entirely for his wife and children, and making it his 
continual occupation to render them happier than any 
mortals have a right to be in this sad world of ours. 

He had in his nature not a trace of the cold, forbidding 
haughtiness which is popularly supposed to be one of 
the characteristics of Royal and Imperial personages, nor 
did he confuse dignity with that stiffness suggestive of 
"having swallowed a ramrod," as do, alas! but too 
frequently those to whom dignity is but a laboriously 
acquired attitude a matter of mere pose. He was 
invariably courteous to high and low alike, but his 
reserve of manner was singularly impenetrable, and his 
mode of speech gave one the impression of a gentle and 
sustained indifference to all that did not touch his 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

beloved ones. In short, he might have been summarized 
by that strangely pathetic appellation which so often 
calls forth the ridicule and merriment of the crowd a 
dreamer. 

With his little son, Archduke Franz-Karl, like his 
Imperial father, became the merest child, thoroughly 
happy with all a child's pleasure in a long day spent 
in the woods, a search after wild flowers or autumn 
berries, or in any other simple amusement pertaining 
to the Golden Age of Youth ; and in these pursuits there 
was true companionship between them, for so far from 
having to descend to the child's level, as Emperor Fran- 
cis had done, he did but follow the bent of his own spirit. 

His love of nature was a part of himself, an inborn, 
Hellenic sympathy, which is something entirely different 
from the pose of the individual who thinks to do honor 
to his own cleverness by patronizingly commending 
the works of the Almighty; and different also from that 
of the botanizing fiend who, with his tin canister at his 
back and his pompous Latin jargon, depoetizes the very 
essence of nature's poetry. 

Archduke Franz-Karl quietly enjoyed the beauty of 
the out-door world, feeling himself thoroughly akin to 
all that grew or moved in it, all that rejoiced in the 
sunshine and flavored of the soil, whether flower or 
beast or man. He was familiar with every mountain 
or forest blossom, and had the love begotten of knowl- 
edge and long acquaintance for all the furred and feath- 
ered life of the woodlands, as well as for the stalwart 
Scnner and Sennerinnen of his favorite summer re- 
treats in Upper Austria and Tyrol. 

One day as little " Franzi " then a boy nearly five 
years old was wandering with his father under the 
budding trees of the park at Schonbrunn, the child, 
spying in the young grass the first tuft of violets, de- 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

lightedly fell on his knees, and, kissing the flowers glee- 
fully, exclaimed, in his pretty, uncertain German: 

" Willkommen, Ihr hiibsche, Ihr susse ! Gott segne 
euch !" (Welcome, you pretty, you sweet! God bless 
you !) 

A sound of contemptuous laughter came from the 
neighboring shrubbery, and Archduchess Sophia, twirl- 
ing a rose-lined sunshade on her shoulder, pushed aside 
the supple boughs of a copper-beech, and stood before 
them. 

"You ridiculous child!" she exclaimed, with some 
impatience. "A fine thing for a future soldier to 
fraternize with budding violets!" 

Crimson with shame, the bonny little lad jumped to 
his feet, and gazed at the tiny, nodding blossoms through 
fast-gathering tears. 

"Weine nicht, Herzchen!" said his father, bending 
caressingly over him, " Mutzerl meint es dock nicht!" 

An ominous frown contracted the Archduchess's del- 
icately pencilled brows, and her lips parted for further 
reproof, but closed immediately, her better nature gain- 
ing the upper hand. Stooping quickly she lifted the 
child from the ground, and drawing his curly head upon 
her shoulder, she soothed him with that graceful ten- 
derness to which she, unfortunately, but infrequently 
gave expression, and which transformed her ordinarily 
impassive face as a bright sun-ray transforms a clear 
and colorless ice-crystal into a thing of transcendent 
beauty. 

A scene from a story-book, say you? Not so! An 
incident that actually occurred. 

It is a very thankless task, a weary undertaking, to 
tell the true history of a romantic life. For there are 
many who invariably conclude that one is disregard- 
ing truth for effect which is humiliating indeed; and 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

therefore too often, alas! the scribe like the artist who 
does not dare, when setting his palette, to approach the 
gorgeous coloring of nature, the dazzling gold of an 
Oriental sunset, or the flaming hues of tropical blos- 
somshesitates to relate the real, the live, the palpi- 
tating, or even the mere simple touching incidents 
which 'go to make up the existences of royal person- 
ages past or present. 

At ten years of age Francis-Joseph was a handsome 
boy, fair of skin and slender of form, though very strong 
and supple from living much out-of-doors. His bright 
amber hair curled on his low, broad forehead, and his 
eyes were big, honest, fearless, and of the exact hue of a 
forget-me-not. He was tall for his age, and possessed to 
a supreme degree that air of refinement and distinction for 
which his mother was remarkable, and which, as I have 
already said, though not always the result of a patri- 
cian ancestry, is, however, rarely derived from any other 
source. Full of high spirits, there was something charm- 
ing and contagious in his frank gayety, which was quite 
devoid of boisterousness, and rarely made him forget, 
despite a quick and impulsive temper, that an absolute 
and chivalrous courtesy is the first duty of a prince. 
Somehow or other he never worried anybody, as he 
was neither wayward nor imperious, but so considerate 
that his attendants were loud in his praise, and though 
by no means that horror of horrors, a model child, he 
had a knack of endearing himself at once and forever 
to those who had the fortune of meeting him intimately. 
Of course, in spite of all this, he thoroughly well knew 
that he was a little man of considerable importance, 
to whom everybody rendered homage, and whose tiny 
hand was kissed by gray-haired Ministers of State and 
great nobles ; but adulation had no bad effect upon him, 
thanks to his affectionate, sensitive nature, and his 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

almost alarming swiftness in self-reproach and self- 
discontent, if I may use such a word. 

Sports of all kinds delighted him. At eight years of 
age he rode his pony with consummate grace and skill, 
swam like an otter, was a sure and well-drilled shot at 
the target or running mark, and could use crampons and 
alpenstock with the same felicity as any mountaineer 
of his own beloved Tyrol. 

In the Tyrol it was that from his earliest childhood he 
found his greatest joys; for long since his grandfather's 
and his father's love of nature had appeared in him. 
"A dreamer of dreams," his mother who could never 
appreciate this side of his character called him, and 
so, indeed, he may be said to have remained his life 
long not in the sense of an indolent idealist, for none 
have worked harder nor more conscientiously than he, 
but in that of a temperament keenly alive to the beauti- 
ful in every form, satisfied with simple amusements, and 
incapable of ennui when thrown upon its own resources. 
Then as now he was ready to fly back to the tall hills 
and lofty peaks which he loved so dearly, and there, 
surrounded by the precipices black with pine and fir 
shelving dizzily downward, and wrapped about by the 
utter silence of the high ranges broken only by the 
ripple of water or the distant tinkle and rustle of 
avalanches on the upper snows drink deep draughts of 
solitude and delicious loneliness. 

It was but natural that this little lad, drawn as he 
was so irresistibly to the romantic and the ideal, should 
love to wander in the winter twilight through the great 
panelled and tapestried galleries of the Hofburg, in 
order to watch the gleam of the rising moon filter 
through long, lancet windows painted by Jacob of Ulm 
and Selier of Landshut in the days of long ago, or to 
gaze dreamily at the grim figures in full armor keeping 

13 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

their rigid and eternal vigil under the gorgeous, gold- 
broidered banners adorning the walls in the Rittersaal. 

Natural, also, though prophetically strange, that he 
should be devoted to the worship of St. Elizabeth of 
Hungary, that gracious and poetic figure which after 
so many centuries was to find reincarnation in the 
woman to whom, " malgre tout ce que I' on peut dire," the 
years of his manhood gave so deep and true a tenderness, 
the only woman, indeed, he really has loved as love 
should be loved. 

A picture representing the noble wife of Louis of Hesse 
with the miraculous roses in her lap was one of the most 
cherished possessions of his childhood, and to this day 
it hangs above the narrow camp-bed which he invariably 
uses. 

Yet through the tissue of all his winning and lovable 
qualities, his softness of heart and tender, affectionate 
nature, ran the strong strain of his maternal inheritance, 
like a clear breath of mountain wind through the sweet 
fragrance of flowers. This showed itself especially in 
his total lack of self-consciousness, in his honesty of 
purpose, and the brave, quiet determination that marked 
him as one who in after-times should be of those who 
may be broken but never defeated, and who amid 
misfortunes may say with the poet : 

"Beneath the bludgeonings of Chance 
My head is bloody, but not bowed." 

His extreme consideration for others and great gen- 
erosity became apparent almost simultaneously with his 
acquisition of speech, and the following little anecdote 
may illustrate what I mean : 

One day when he was not yet quite four years old 
he had followed his grandfather into the great tapestried 
hall where State papers were daily brought for the 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Imperial signature. Even at that time the child was in 
harmony with his royal surroundings, as he pattered 
about with the golden light of the sun falling through 
the painted panes of the immense windows upon his 
curly pate, his round, rosy face, big blue eyes, and the 
dove-hued velvets and laces of his little frock. The tiny 
feet were noiseless on the thick, purple carpet, and he 
trotted around, joyful and unhindered, stopping from 
time to time to examine the priceless vases, groups of 
bronze figures, and exquisite statues standing here and 
there upon tables and consoles. Suddenly in the deep 
embrasure of one of the windows he discovered the 
sword of the General- A djudant on duty. Fascinated 
by the shimmering tassels of the porte-epee and by the 
possibilities of so novel a plaything, he pounced upon it, 
bestrode the sword, seized the golden cords and tassels 
in his chubby hands, and, using them as reins, began to 
gallop up and down, clapping his pink tongue energet- 
ically to encourage his charger. The Emperor silently 
indicated the boy's characteristic performance to his 
companion, and a wistful look came into his eyes, for 
he realized perchance that this delicious period of baby- 
hood was almost at an end always a sorrow for those 
who really love their children. 

With a sudden impulse of the joy and mastery of pos- 
session, "Franzi" gave his mount a decidedly vicious 
jerk, which tore apart the delicately wrought porte-epee 
and caused the great sword to fall at his feet with a terri- 
fying rattle of steel. Consternation depicted on his little 
face, where the color had suddenly deepened, and big tears 
gathering in his "forget-me-not" eyes, he stood trans- 
fixed and completely overcome by the magnitude of his 
crime. For a moment he remained thus; then the two 
men, watching him covertly, saw him slowly pick up 
the dismantled sabre and drag it to where its inwardly 

15 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

much-entertained owner stood at the Emperor's elbow. 
Up went the dimpled hands bearing their heavy burden, 
and from the piteously trembling lips came this as- 
tonishing and consoling sentence : 

4 ' Weine nicht ! Franzi wird's bezahlen wann er einmal 
Kaiser ist!" (Don't cry! "Franzi" will pay for it 
when he is Emperor!) 

"Franzi's" intercourse with his brothers was not as 
free as is usually the case when there is but a trifling 
difference of age. This was due to the fact that his 
education was directed entirely by his mother and on 
wholly different lines from theirs, which the father had 
now taken completely under his own charge. Of course 
during the summer months the boys romped together 
a good deal, but as soon as the Imperial Family returned 
to Vienna, or even Schonbrunn, the curious estrangement, 
separating them as virtually as if they lived miles apart, 
was resumed. 

The brother he loved best was Ferdinand-Maximilian, 
who, only two years younger than himself, was best fit- 
ted to be his companion, and from the moment when the 
child had begun to walk "Franzi," when he was allow- 
ed to be with him, had been careful of his every step, 
jealous of his affection, and had tended him with untir- 
ing tenderness, risking, indeed, more than once, life and 
limb to bring him down from the mountains some covet- 
ed flower or bit of tinted quartz. 

Little Ferdinand was a quaint child if ever there was 
one, and of a serious, mild, yielding disposition, which, 
alas! was to prove his undoing in later years, when, to 
satisfy the mad ambition of his Belgian wife, he accepted 
the crown and sceptre of Mexico. 

Karl-Ludwig, who was a year younger than Ferdinand, 
was not, like him, gentle and quiet, but singularly 
opinionated, masterful, and eager to get his own way in 

16 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

everything; "a proud, rebellious child," as his mother 
would say. He never, however, had "Franzi's" daring 
and skill in sports, and from the first he did not have 
what one calls un charactere facile. Years and educa- 
tion failed to change him, but only "combed his hide" 
and gave him a silken coat of dignity and self-com- 
, mand which sufficed at most times to conceal much 
roughness and narrowness of mind. Moreover, he was 
very single-minded in all he did and thought. He was 
pleased or displeased with people and with things, 
recognized no half - tints or half - measures, and was 
equally ready to give his life up for his friends and to 
consign his enemies to the tortures of the pit. A 
passionate, fiery soul under a rough bark that was 
Karl-Ludwig! 

As to Louis- Victor, the youngest of the brood, he was 
as yet but a baby, with light yellow curls, big round 
blue eyes, and a skin like a pink lily, and he did not 
enter into "Franzi's" life excepting in the r61e of an 
animated doll, with which he was occasionally allowed 
to play. Moreover, this littlest one of all was the 
darling and favorite of his aunt Empress Maria-Anna, 
who monopolized him and dreaded to see his brothers 
romp with the delicate, often ailing, child. 

Poor Empress! her life was a colorless one, without 
great joys or deep sorrows, but unspeakably dreary in 
its childless monotony. Delicate and fragile, she took 
no pleasures in the sports so dear to all Austrian 
women, while her Italian heart unceasingly mourned 
the Court of her father, King Victor Emanuel of Sar- 
dinia, where she had lived in a warm and sensuous 
atmosphere, fragrant with flowers and enlivened by 
witty gossip. To her the feudal etiquette of the Hof- 
burg, and the long northern winters seemed alike very 
terrible, and she only breathed entirely at ease when 

17 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

surrounded exclusively by Italians and priests, which 
marked preference naturally caused her to be ex- 
tremely unpopular and freely accused of bigotry, and 
of wielding a very deleterious influence over her Imperial 
husband. 

Little Louis-Victor was a veritable godsend to her, 
and this one sincere affection was the only really lumi- 
nous spot in an existence spent in alternately eating bon- 
bons and telling the beads of her rosary. "Franzi" 
she did not greatly like, for she was absolutely unable 
to comprehend his daring, his intrepidity, his love for 
open-air pastimes or his delight in those long, white- 
frozen months which she so greatly hated and con- 
temptuously called "hyperborean!" "Franzi," she used 
to say, "is too full of vitality; it is fatiguing to watch 
him!" And when Archduchess Sophia left Vienna for 
the summer months the Empress's only regret was that 
this Spartan mother should decline to leave "Baby Vic- 
tor" with his doting aunt, who spoiled him as it was, a 
great deal too much for her taste. 

The best time of the year for " Franzi " and his broth- 
ers was just those summers spent at Weissenbach on the 
Attersee in Upper Austria, one of 'the most beautiful 
spots of that surpassingly lovely lake and mountain re- 
gion. The divinely blue sheet of water, closed in from 
the world by an amphitheatre of pine-clad slopes, sweep- 
ing down from the eternal snows, was to the boys a con- 
stant source of delight, whether they canoed upon its 
gleaming surface, or frolicked and swam in its clean 
depths as soon as the snow-fed waters were sufficiently 
sun- warmed to allow of such a sport. 

In this neighborhood "Franzi's" greatest friend was 
the now almost historically celebrated Doppelbauer, rec- 
tor of Steinbach, a blunt individual, who prided himself 
upon speaking "wie ihm der Schnabel gewachsen war"; 

18 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

tha is to say, "just as his beak grew," or, in other 
words, very much to the point, and in a remarkably 
unconventional manner. 

A character was this old man, whose clever, humor- 
ous, wrinkled countenance constantly beamed with 
good -humor. Of peasant birth, a son of the soil in 
heart, soul, and body, he lacked neither shrewdness nor 
a certain amount of learning; but a contented spirit, 
and a great love for his own place and surroundings, 
led him to seek no advancement or favor from the 
Church he so faithfully served. His very humble par- 
sonage was to him a paradise, a daily cause for self- 
congratulation that he had resisted all such tempta- 
tions, and his flowers, his orchard, his bee-hives, his 
poultry, and his splendidly fat, loudly grunting pigs 
were second only in interest to his parishioners. 

He had already lived a long and blameless life of true 
devotion and some hardship, entailed by the prosecution 
of his labors in his rough mountain parish, when the lit- 
tle Archduke appeared to brighten his lonely and forced- 
ly rather monotonous existence, and the extremely af- 
fectionate relations soon established between the slight, 
elegant Imperial child and the rubicund old priest were 
delightful to witness. The merry, sympathetic boy was 
a rare and enchanting companion to Doppelbauer, among 
whose virtues toadyism had no place, who was totally 
regardless of Court etiquette, and far from feeling that 
awe of his future sovereign which might have been ex- 
pected of a man of his humble origin and simple life. 
Indeed, he treated the child "tout a fait de puissance a 
puissance,'" and with the freedom, ease, and sans gene 
of a grandfatherly playfellow, loving him with all the 
strength of a great simple heart. 

Early one morning, in the summer of 1840, "Franzi" 
took his way towards his reverend friend's modest abode, 

19 



A K;EY STONE OF EMPIRE 

accompanied only by his favorite dog, a huge, mouse- 
colored Dane, whose big, gold-pailleted eyes were con- 
stantly fixed on his young master, and whose erect ears 
testified to his watchfulness and to his sincere and earnest 
consciousness of the responsibility resting upon him as 
the boy's trusty guardian. The walk to the parsonage 
lay under the cathedral gloom of Siberian pines along 
abrupt slopes carpeted by deep, soft, velvety mosses, and 
thick fern-brakes, and here and there a narrow brook 
made itself heard as it tumbled through the dim green- 
ness to fall in foaming cascades into the Attersee far be- 
low. 

In the priest's garden there was a loud hum of bees 
about the old-fashioned stocks, gillyflowers, hollyhocks, 
and snap-dragon surrounding great patches of sturdy 
cabbages, salads, and pungent onions, while, in a blos- 
soming elderberry -bush by the trim fence, a goldfinch 
sang at the top of his harmonious little voice. 

"Franzi," pausing at the wicket just long enough to 
explain to the dog that his size and his big paws would 
endanger the "Herr Pfarrer's" fine flowers and vege- 
tables, and to console the disappointed attendant with a 
kiss on his beseeching nose, ran into the garden with a 
face of sunshine. 

In a far corner of the enclosure Doppelbauer was 
kneeling amid his potatoes, weeding and tending the 
promising plants, and truth compels me to add that the 
reverend gentleman was excessively grimy, his large, 
sunburned hands bearing ample testimony to his labor 
amid the rich mould wherein the tubers throve. 

"Ho, ho! Is that you, little friend?" he exclaimed, 
turning a crimson and perspiring but beaming counte- 
nance towards his visitor. "What good wind blew you 
here?" Then he added, with a laugh, "I can't shake 
hands with you, I'm too dirty." 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

"That's nothing," exclaimed "Franzi," extending his 
smooth, pink palm; but, seeing that his beloved "Pfar- 
rer" refused to grasp it, a shade of annoyance cloud- 
ed his bonny visage, and with a little frown he stooped 
quickly, thrust his hand deep into the dark, greasy 
earth, and, withdrawing it thoroughly coated with mire, 
waved it triumphantly under the nose of his amazed and 
delighted host. 

"Now," he cried with a laugh, "I'm just as dirty as 
you are, and you will have to shake hands!" Which 
ceremony was accordingly performed with much enthu- 
siasm and merriment on both sides. 

They were still chatting to their heart's content about 
the fowls and the fruit, the new-laid eggs which the 
young Archduke loved to bring from the nests and the 
tiny green flies threatening the rose-bushes, when they 
were suddenly warned by the mid-day bell of the Kaiser- 
villa chiming and clanging in the distance, how long a 
road, comparatively speaking, lay between the lad and 
his dejeuner. Also, an errand intrusted to him by his 
mother, but which had, until that moment, entirely es- 
caped his memory, was recalled to "Franzi's" mind, 
and he said, coaxingly: 

" ' Herr Pfarrer,' mamma told me to ask you if you will 
dine with us to-night?" 

Gravely Doppelbauer shook his large, shaggy head, 
wiped his hands upon his blue gardening-apron, and ex- 
tracting a " rat -tail " snuff-box from the big, front pocket 
thereof, inhaled a generous pinch of "sneezing-powder," 
as "Franzi" called it. 

"Won't you come?" the boy asked again, wistfully. 

"Atch chew!" sneezed the priest. "Atch chew!" 
and, after blowing his nose vigorously in a gorgeous red- 
and-yellow handkerchief, he answered, roundly: 

"No, my boy, I won't come. I've got two fine sau- 

21 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

sages and some right ' schmeckhaft' (tasty) sauerkraut 
for my supper, and that's much better than the messes 
cooked by your grand chef; they do not agree with me 
at all. But you can tell your good mother that I'll come 
in for dessert. Your coffee is pretty fair, but for the 
rest pfui!" Which peroration was emphasized by a 
grimace of the most realistic disgust. 

Somewhat disappointed, but smiling to himself at the 
thought of what mamma would say to such a very un- 
sophisticated mode of declining an invitation, the lit- 
tle Archduke turned his face homeward, racing down 
through the pine wood which slopes abruptly towards 
the flowery lawns of the "Schloss." 

Damp and dishevelled from short-cuts through tangled 
undergrowth, he burst into his mother's morning-room: 
" Der Herr Pfarrer," he panted, "will come after din- 
ner. He does not like the cooking here, but he says the 
coffee is good, and, do you know, Mutterl, I think he is 
quite right." 

As usual, when alone with her boy, the Archduchess 
thawed, and her grave eyes sparkled with genuine fun. 
"The 'Herr Pfarrer,'" she remarked, dryly, "is quite a 
connoisseur, and so are you, no doubt! But go now and 
change your damp shoes, Bubi. Also, do not bring this 
elephantine dog in here. He capsizes everything with 
his interminable tail." 

When at Weissenbach, I may state here, Archduchess 
Sophia was inclined to relax somewhat the severity of 
her Spartan rule, and her younger children felt that there 
they were far less outside her life. In Vienna, although 
never unjust, impatient, or unkind to them, yet her 
stern stateliness awed them, and when she attended to 
any of their demands upon her they knew by instinct 
that her whole heart was not in this accomplishment 
of maternal duty; so, very gradually, a slight and for a 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

long time almost imperceptible jealousy of their elder 
brother crept into their hearts, from whence it was 
never eradicated. 

The mother, whose hand caressed "Franzi's" golden 
curls, whose lips curved into a welcoming smile when 
he came into the room, who listened with exemplary 
patience to his stammering Latin, and praised his .still 
unformed handwriting, seemed to them a distant god- 
dess, proud and inflexible, who often rebuked them with 
peremptory and unyielding decision not as she did to 
him, a dear Mutterl or Mutzerl, in whose very strictness 
the thoughtful boy had already perceived the best evi- 
dence of love. Of a truth, "Franzi" alone aroused in 
his mother those softer moods which suited her so well. 
She who, although a pious daughter of Rome, would 
have bearded the Holy Father himself, and braved the 
very thunders of excommunication when her indomi- 
table spirit was roused, who would bend her will to none, 
who for days on end when offended intrenched herself 
in silence and pride, and who was accustomed to twist 
human volition like a willow wand in her hand, had 
never willingly had a harsh look for her first-born, from 
the moment when, in his babyhood, she had soothed 
and caressed and amused him, and watched him falling 
asleep on her lap with his downy head nestled upon her 
breast. He was, indeed, her all, and when, peradvent- 
ure, an impatient word escaped her, it was followed by a 
throb of intolerable remorse. 

There was yet another who escaped the half-terrified 
awe which the Archduchess inspired in most persons, and 
whom she greatly respected for it, strange as it may ap- 
pear. This was the Reverend Doppelbauer. 

The excellent old priest arrived that evening in time 

'to swallow, with an appreciative smacking of the lips, a 

cup of the "pretty fair " coffee he had so condescendingly 

23 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

commended earlier in the day. After draining the last 
drop, however, he looked pityingly at the tiny Sevres toy 
in which it had been served, and, shrugging his heavy 
shoulders, remarked: 

" Now, what nonsense it is to use such thimbles! I've 
got a pint bowl at home that's something like; but this 
doesn't even hold enough to tickle the tongue!" 

They were quite en famille on the terrace overlooking 
the lake; there was the tinkle of coffee-cups, the smell of 
cigar-smoke mingling with that of great beds of reseda 
and heliotrope. Clinging to the wall of the villa behind 
them, two immense climbing roses were all aglow with 
crimson and yellow blossoms, and in the distance the 
ramparts and bastions and high pinnacles of the moun- 
tains glittered under the slanting rays of the setting sun. 

Archduke Franz-Karl, stretched peacefully in a long, 
cane chair, dandled his youngest son on his knee, and 
watching the lithe figure of "Franzi," as the boy ran 
down the steps towards the lake, saw, perchance, in his 
mind's eye, his grandchildren reigning here when he him- 
self would be ever so old, and when " Franzi " would have 
long been a puissant monarch. Doppelbauer, sitting by 
the open glass door of the now empty dining-room, 
blinked into his cup with ludicrous disappointment, and 
repeated, ruefully: 

"Ah, yes; hardly enough to tickle the tongue!" 

Archduchess Sophia walked across to him with a full 
cup in her hand. She was dressed in white, and pearls 
these unassuming gems of demi-toilette were wound 
round her throat; her beautiful hair was very simply 
but very perfectly arranged, and she was smiling gayly. 

"Come 'Herr Pfarrer'!" she said, indulgently. "I 
am going to prevent you from committing the sin of 
covetousness, at least for the present. Drink this, and 
when you want some more, I'll fill it again for you." 

24 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

^Oh, good Doppelbauer, did you at this instant realize 
that a daughter and mother of kings was waiting upon 
you ? It did not seem so, for, with a hearty laugh, of the 
quality which the French so graphically describe as un 
rire gras, he coolly exchanged cups, and allowed the 
greatly entertained Archduchess to carry away the 
empty "thimble" of precious china, calling after her, 
cheerily: 

"Ha, Imperial Highness, all I ever covet are eatables! 
That's only half a sin." 

She laughed too, and sat down on a low, cushioned 
chair to watch the glorious harvest - moon rise 
above the mountains. At her feet lay the great, 
glancing sheet of water, and the wonderful evening light 
seemed to have a voice that blended with the silvery 
tones of the church-bell ringing the "Angelus" behind 
the pine-crested slopes of a high hill on the left. The 
scene was strangely poetical, the lovely night aimed at 
an atmosphere of tenderness, of almost reverent ro- 
mance, and with it mingled, ethereal and mysteriously 
pathetic, the sweet scent of nature in night's silent hours. 

Suddenly, on the swiftly brightening luminous path 
made by Dame Luna upon the bosom of the lake, a tiny 
canoe, rocking violently, appeared. In it stood, paddle 
in hand, the venturesome "Franzi," swinging recklessly 
from side to side, and evidently enchanted with the illu- 
sion of being tempest-tossed which he was producing for 
himself. 

Archduchess Sophia rose to her feet with a blanched, 
frightened face. 

"Oh, 'Herr Pfarrer,' please shout to 'Franzi' not to 
do that!" she exclaimed, evidently relying on the old 
man's superior power of lung. 

He lazily turned his bullet head, glanced at the little 
boat madly rolling about, watched for a minute the 



su 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

_pple inclinations from right to left of the graceful 
figure poised perilously on its narrow thwarts, and re- 
sponded, in broad patois: 

" Ach! Wenn er amal Kaiser is, wird no mehr uber 
eahm komma, an wanner jetzt einfallt zarrn ma'n 
scho'aussa." (When he is once Emperor nothing will 
touch him more, and if he now falls in we can easily get 
him out.) 

Alas for the worthy priest's prophecy! How many 
were the things hidden in the future, that were to touch, 
and touch bitterly and keenly, the boy rocking so hap- 
pily in the canoe! 

In the charming gardens of the " Kaiservilla " at 
Weissenbach was a kiosque overlooking the lake, a small, 
low building made of carved, fretted, and fragrant red 
pine, surmounted by a pointed, thatched roof overrun 
with jasmine and roses. Long locks of mauve and 
white wistaria tumbled down its sides, heavy with the 
weight of bloom they supported, and rustled odorously 
in the light summer wind, or humbly drooped their 
glittering, tearful petals when one of the dense showers, 
which are the rule rather than the exception in those re- 
gions, came to freshen the earth. It was reached by 
winding paths curving between tall syringa, laburnum, 
lilac, and rhododendron bushes, and was a place always 
abounding in three beautiful things silence, flowers, 
and perfume. 

Here it was that every morning "Franzi" sat at his 
lessons with one or other of his instructors. There were 
not many sights or sounds without to distract his atten- 
tion save the ripple of the blue lake, faint bird-songs 
among the shadows of the gardens, a shepherd seen on 
the opposite mountain's flank driving his flock before 
him, and perhaps yodling melodiously to the drowsy 
echoes, or a peasant woman returning to her chalet with 

26 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

a gigantic bundle of fresh-cut grass poised upon her 
shapely head. The task done, all that paradise was his 
to range, but still to him the hours of study were not a 
time of penance, and he willingly bent his curly pate 
above ponderous tomes and absorbing exercises. 

At the Hofburg his " school-room " was not so poetical, 
and yet Archduchess Sophia, who believed, and rightly 
so, that a child's artistic taste and comprehension should 
be developed by his surroundings as early as possible, in- 
variably devoted to this use, not as is generally the case 
even for little Royal boys and girls, a plainly, nay, an 
oft meagrely furnished room, with glaring maps in lieu 
of mural decoration, and ink-stained tables supporting 
ill -bound volumes of the most discouraging aspect, but a 
room panelled and ceiled with oak, carved in dead-and- 
gone days by Schuferstein. Two great tapestries of 
Marc de Comans faced the Imperial boy's writing-table, 
which itself was a masterpiece of Buhl, and the atmos- 
phere was kept warm and mellow by a brilliant fire of 
cedar logs burning day and night in a monumental 
polychrome stove of fifteenth-century make, with beau- 
tifully tinted tiled steps guarded by two wolves ex- 
quisitely carved in green bronze. Also there were 
always vases filled with hot - house blossoms on the 
centre-table the only touch of femininity about this 
stately apartment which people enamored of French 
gilding, gay hangings, and plush - covered furniture 
would assuredly have criticised as somewhat too severe 
in style for a child's study. 

The Imperial boy from the very first loved his lessons 
in history, his eyes shining like stars when he heard of 
some grand deed, some heroic action. Rudolph von 
Habsburg and Wallenstein were among his favorite his- 
torical characters soldiers being always foremost in his 
esteem and he could have listened to the records of their 

27 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

magnificent bravery from "Matins" to "Ave-Maria" 
during the long winter days when the snow fell with 
gentle pertinacity upon the grim, gray courts of the 
"Burg," or the wind howled around its thick, granite 
walls in a fitting accompaniment to the recital of these 
Homeric combats. 

Thus was passed a singularly happy and peaceful 
childhood, under the wisest of regimens, with simple 
fare, and an almost total absence of the amusements 
we are accustomed to associate with the life of the 
great of this world, but beautified instead by harmless 
pastimes and out -door sports and occupations amid 
the pure Alpine air. Surrounded, during six months 
out of every twelve, by scenes so germane to his sunny 
nature, and forming so fitting a background to the gay 
dreams of a lively boyish fancy, the little Archduke 
grew towards maturity sound in body, soul, and brain. 

When Archduke Franz attained his twelfth year, his 
mother decided that his baby name of "Franzi" should 
now be dropped and replaced by "Franz," tout court, as 
an indication that he had left childhood behind him and 
had entered adolescence. From that day on, too, she 
had her younger children brought to her more often, 
drove out with them occasionally, inquired into their 
studies, their amusements, their pastimes, their com- 
forts, habits, and even their playthings, and, wonder of 
wonders, now and again at the twilight hour they were 
allowed to sit at her feet, playing, or listening to the 
legends and stories which she excelled in telling. But, 
nevertheless, her pride and her hopes dwelt as ever in 
her fair-haired first-born, whom she already saw bearing 
the weight and glory of the Dual Crown. 

In spite of her stoicism, however, she, like any other 
loving mother, suffered acutely from this change, and 
notwithstanding her eagerness to urge on by all possible 

28 




EMPEROR FRANCIS I. (GRANDFATHER OF FRANCIS - JOSEPH) 

AND EMPRESS CAROLINE IN THE IMPERIAL 

BOX AT THE THEATRE 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

means the moment when the lad she was so proud of 
should reach full manhood, and therefore be ready to 
ascend the steps of the throne, yet she felt deeply, 
almost cruelly, regretful of the days when he had been 
all her own, her little, curly-headed darling, coming to be 
consoled for small troubles and small pains within the 
shelter of her arms. 

When Emperor Francis had died in 1835 sne h a d 
breathed a sigh of relief, for she had always dreaded 
what she called his "effeminating influence" upon his 
favorite grandson; and when watching the child's almost 
abnormal grief at that moment, when hearing him sob- 
bing aloud almost deliriously, jealous thoughts, which, 
like rust upon iron, had eaten deeply into her heart, 
nearly overcame her, and she had had to strive not to 
treat the child she adored with positive harshness in her 
impatience at witnessing how great must have been the 
love between those two. 

Poor Emperor Francis! He was sincerely mourned 
by his subjects far and wide, and the feathers taken from 
the pillow upon which he breathed his last, and which 
had very characteristically been distributed to the ladies 
of the aristocracy, are still found in many a patrician 
household exquisitely framed and sacred as were they 
relics ; but his daughter-in-law kept no such memento, for 
had he not been a dangerous stumbling-block in her path ? 
After all, she was inclined to think, everything happens 
for the best in this uncertain and changeful world of 
ours, even the accession of her timid, weak, delicate 
brother-in-law, Ferdinand, whom at heart she despised, 
for he would at least make a wonderful foil for the Em- 
peror she was fashioning, as a great sculptor fashions the 
clay of a future chef-d'oeuvre. 

Her Franz! The greatness of his race, the greatness 
of his future, were wellnigh sacred things to her, and far 

39 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

dearer than her own pride. She never tired of telling 
him of his obligations and privileges, pointing out to him 
his proud descent, like a dazzling line of light streaming 
down to him through the darkness of the ages to guide 
his footsteps. All ordinary emotion of maternity, all 
softening recollections of her own childhood, were near- 
ly killed in her by her consciousness that it was she, 
and she alone, who was predestined to be the mentor of 
this King, and that her hands might mould, her spirit 
create, that superb and dazzling creature of her dreams 
a perfect Monarch. 

Weaker women would have asked for counsel. She 
was her own and her son's sole law -giver. She did 
not even seek to ease her often overburdened spirit by 
confiding to others the anxieties that possessed her dur- 
ing long, wretched nights of pondering, long days of 
earnest reflection upon the then far from reassuring 
state of her son's inheritance, but kept silence, indomi- 
tably scorning the tribunals of all human wisdom save 
her own. 

"God must see the grandeur of my endeavor," she once 
said, "and His help is all I demand." 

"Apprendre a faire son metier de souverain!" This 
was what Archduke Franz had now to do, and it must 
be confessed that nothing was neglected which could 
help him thereto, and also that he himself showed re 
markable good-will and aptitude in so doing. 



CHAPTER II 

"FRANZI," the simple-hearted boy who had infinitely 
preferred the society of Doppelbauer to that of courtiers, 
and the simple joys of country-life to the amusements of 
cities, had now to relinquish both, to a certain extent, 
and to turn his undivided attention to all the branches of 
science and of practical knowledge necessary for him to 
study. 

The days when his tutors, Count Heinrich Bombelles 
and Count Johann Coronini, had sought to awaken and 
set in motion his childish intelligence under the inter- 
lacing roses of the lake-pavilion at Weissenbach were 
but a memory, and together with four young nobles 
his "brothers-in-arms," as he called them Prince Rich- 
ard Metternich, son of the great Chancellor; Count Karl 
Bombelles, son of his tutor, and who, after a very check- 
ered career, became, many years later, the instructor of 
poor, ill-fated Crown-Prince Rudolf; Count Franz Coro- 
nini, son of his second tutor, and finally Count Taafe, 
afterwards one of Austria's greatest Prime-Ministers, 
Archduke Franz began his military training under Colo- 
nel von Hauslab, a superb soldier and a man of talent, 
warm-hearted, conscientious, and brave. 

Nor was this training child's play, for the future Ruler 
of Austro-Hungary was made to begin at the very be- 
ginning, just like any other recruit, and if his clothes 
were finer, his food better prepared, and his lodging dif- 
ferent from that of the rest of his Majesty Ferdinand 
I.'s private soldiers, the fatigues entailed by the break- 
si 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ing of his Majesty's nephew to harness were by no means 
lighter than those endured by them. He was completely 
given up to the grasp of that great war mechanism which 
untiringly turns out what the French graphically term 
"de la chair <i canon," and sometimes it seemed to him 
as if he had himself become a piece of machinery, a mere 
mannikin making gestures in obedience to a wire pulled 
by a ruthlessly authoritative hand. He was made to 
groom his own horse, to saddle and bridle and feed it, 
to serve and manoeuvre a cannon. He was put through 
ordinary infantry drill, was taught to lay mines under the 
direction of a colonel of sappers, to handle a pick and 
shovel shoulder to shoulder with the gray-uniformed 
men of the pioneer corps, and from six in the morning 
until late at night the lad labored almost unceasingly, 
dropping rifle or sword only to sit before a desk where 
his theoretical and classical education was pursued most 
industriously. 

None but the young Archduke himself knew at that 
time the extent of the sacrifice he was making, not to 
his own ambition, but to his mother's, in thus turning 
his every thought and effort, and devoting his every 
moment to the accomplishment of her wishes, and in- 
deed, a budding sportsman like himself, keen of eye and 
swift of foot, fond, above all things, of freedom and of 
out-door pastimes, must have suffered exceedingly under 
this iron ferule of science and learning. 

Count Taafe, who was his favorite "brother-in-arms," 
told me one evening, as we sat amid the giant holly- 
hocks, the flowering linden-trees, and the ripening cher- 
ries of a delicious garden mirrored in the calm, broad, 
moonlit waters of the Moldau or rather the Veltava, as 
that beautiful river is called by its soft, melodious Czech 
name how he had often watched his Imperial comrade 
curb torturing restlessness, feverish impatience, and an 

32 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

almost unconquerable desire to revolt, with a determina- 
tion and a force seemingly sufficient to make his every 
muscle and mental fibre break and snap, until he had 
mastered himself and sat quiet and victorious with big 
beads of moisture on his pale brow. How, also, many 
years later, Francis-Joseph had confessed to him that he 
had several times been on the point of shaking himself 
free from his trammels, and had held on only by sheer 
force of will, battling with himself until he felt absolutely 
broken and tired out, and was once more passive and 
subdued, like a beaten horse. Then, pitilessly, fiercely, 
he lashed himself forward, starting afresh again and again 
in this superb conquest of self. 

Still he was far from really disliking the strange and 
interesting experiences which were his, spending, as he 
did, so many hours of the day among the rank and file 
laborers, artisans, and peasants gathered together by 
the great military dredge from every corner of the Em- 
pire, and all and sundry helped to make of him the man 
he has become well-informed, and understanding, with 
the sympathy born of personal contact, the lives, the 
sorrows, and the joys of the lowliest of his people. 

He was at once oppressed and stimulated by that high 
ideal, that shadowing forth of the unattainable which 
his own soul no less than his mother held ever before his 
eyes, and dreading not to justify his birthright by dis- 
tancing his compeers, he worked with desperate energy, 
alternately confident and despairing of success. 

Gradually, however, the brave lad became more silent 
and reserved; he withdrew into himself and brooded 
alone over the heavy burden of his destiny, until it 
seemed to him that the form of the Ruler he was to be 
took shape and hue, and stood forth from the atmos- 
phere embodied at his side. He saw it with his bodily 
eyes, he spoke to it (this I have from his own lips), it 
3 33 



~\<\\ 



A KEYSTONE O'F EMPIRE 

went with him wherever he went, and was his constant 
companion. He believed this brilliant, intangible form 
to be his fate, and if it were absent he feared lest it 
should wish to forsake him, and would pursue it in 
spirit, entreating its return. As if, indeed, our fate 
could be avoided or lost! Alas, whether we love or 
abhor it, it will surely and steadily attend our steps, for 
such is the law, immutable as those of the Medes and 
Persians ! 

In turn the future Emperor of Austro -Hungary was 
placed under the orders of Colonel Loschner, Captain 
Sachse, Lieutenant Kappler, Major Eitel von Seean, 
Colonel Dominick Beck, Captains Giesl, Wtistefeld, Sing- 
er, Baron von Smola, etc., as he passed from the infantry 
to the cavalry, from the artillery to the sappers, the 
Jagers and the pioneers, until at last he himself became 
able to command the officers who had taught him, and 
who reddened with pride when the clear, young voice of 
their beloved pupil shouted an order to them across the 
parade-ground. 

Gradually, slowly, too, but steadily and surely, a 
great alteration became noticeable in the Imperial 
youth. 

There is a flowering of knowledge and of dearly 
bought experience distinct as the burgeoning of an or- 
chard in spring. Sometimes the face of a boy merging 
into manhood becomes almost insolent with triumph 
when the nature of that boy happens to be evil; some- 
times it is wistful in its shy and painful lack of self-confi- 
dence, although the strong, brave heart may pulsate for 
the days and the great deeds that are to come; and 
again, it may show the inane satisfaction of a being 
entirely pleased with himself, and daring the future to 
teach him something he does not already know. 

None of these feelings were to be read on Archduke 

34 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Franz's handsome countenance; there dwelt there usu- 
ally a thoughtful expression, suggestive of hidden and 
unfathomed depths, and through his eyes, clear and 
blue and honest as in earlier years, shone a soul of 
truth, a proud reserve of latent patience and courage, 
with already more than a hint of an inflexible deter- 
mination surprising in so young a man. 

He had become extremely attached to the army, both 
as its future commander, and also as an integral part 
thereof, belonging to it body and soul perchance be- 
cause he had begun to learn all about it at an age when 
most boys are ignorant of even the more ordinary no- 
menclature of military matters. A passionate devotion 
to the heroes of antiquity interfered to a certain extent 
with his comprehension and appreciation of the great 
captains of modern times ; but this delving into the past 
through the medium of books and black letter-records, 
this sedulous raking among the ashes of dead centuries, 
brought to him the tonic effect of many an example, and 
many a precept that braced him to the arduous task of 
resisting the lavish flattery and enervating adulation to 
which all Royal personages are exposed. He always 
preferred warriors to diplomats and politicians, and felt 
himself more in sympathy with men in action than with 
scheming minds a mental attitude which was placed 
to his credit by most of those who prophesied for him 
a splendid career once he had ascended the throne. 

It was a distinct piece of good-fortune for a man des- 
tined to rule over the most polyglottic territory in the 
universe, that he was so remarkably quick at acquiring 
languages. His excellent and perfectly trained musical 
ear helped him greatly in the pronunciation of the bar- 
baric consonants with which Hungarian, Slovak, Czech, 
and most of the other idioms of the Dual-Empire abound, 
and as early as October, 1847, he won the hearts of the 

35 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Magyars when, for the first time speaking in public as 
the Emperor's representative, he addressed them in 
their own tongue instead of making use, as was cus- 
tomary on such occasions, of the Latin language. The 
enthusiasm knew no bounds, and loud Eljens repeatedly 
drowned the young orator's voice, for every Hungarian 
present felt the compliment to his nation, and when, a 
few months afterwards, Kossuth reminded the hot- 
headed, royal-hearted Magyars of this incident at a mo- 
ment of great danger for the Habsburg dynasty, the re- 
sponse was immediate, and all vied in showing their 
appreciation of an Austrian Prince who had not thought 
it beneath his dignity to learn their difficult language so 
as to be able to address them directly, without the me- 
diation of priests or interpreters. From that moment, 
to the Hungarian mind, even during the days of the rebel- 
lion, he was a personality apart from his entire House. 

That keen-witted, keen -eyed woman, Archduchess 
Sophia, realized perfectly that at the completion of his 
studies her handsome boy would enter into that period 
dangerous to all young men, but especially to one cast 
amid the countless temptations which environ Royal 
personages when the slumbering senses awaken. Nor 
was she to be blamed for almost morbidly dreading the 
feminine adorations, which would be thrown at a Prince 
whose personal and intellectual gifts would have made 
him a singularly winning and seductive youth, even had 
he belonged to any other and much humbler walk of life. 
Her only hope was in his extreme fastidiousness and deli- 
cacy of mind and tastes in these there would assuredly 
be salvation from any ordinary intrigue but still she 
incessantly watched him with terrified anxiety, lest all 
that was so deliciously spiritual and innocent in him 
should be destroyed by the merciless witchery of illicit 
love, for she was too thorough-paced a woman of the 

36 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

world not to know that the first passion of a boy colors 
all his future, and that he who has once passed the gates 
of disillusion never quite recovers from the shock nor 
regains a tithe of the self-esteem he has sacrificed. 

"A blonde aux yeux noirs!" I have been told that 
there is but one thing men of taste admire as much, and 
that is a " Brune aux yeux bleus," but that they are both 
surpassed by a " Rousse aux yeux gris!" Of course, 
much depends upon the face, the figure, and the personal 
witchery of such charmeuses, but in Austria dark-eyed 
blondes, beautiful of face and form, are not the excep- 
tion, but very nearly the rule, as many, many brave 
gentlemen of that enticing and fascinating country have 
known to their cost. 

Well, once upon a time to be precise, in 1847 there 
breathed and loved at the Court of a puissant monarch 
Emperor Ferdinand of Austria to conceal nothing of 
this little fairy tale just such a siren, a "blonde aux 
yeux noirs,'" with eyes long and dark and exceeding lus- 
trous, embellished yet more by a provoking droop of 
curly lashes, and by delicately pencilled eyebrows, as 
dark as they. Her tresses were not only blond they 
were of purest gold, of spun sunbeams, or, good people, 
if you should prefer it so put, as sparkling as if daintily 
powdered and frosted with some extraordinarily brill- 
iant yellow diamond dust. What has such hair to do 
with the hackneyed "ripe corn," "amber," or "copper" 
similes so dear to novelists? Nothing whatsoever, I 
assure you; it was much, much finer than all these! 

Add to the above enumeration a dazzlingly fair skin, a 
small, straight, imperceptibly tip-tilted nose, with deli- 
cately rose-tinted nostrils of an emotional, vibrating 
type, lips full, sensuous, red as the bud of the pomegran- 
ate, disclosing short, pearl-white teeth, a slender but 
perfectly rounded figure, singularly tiny feet and hands, 

37 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

and that most surpassingly excellent thing in woman, a 
voice low, rich, and sweet, and you will, I believe, see 
before your mind's eye a marvellously lovely being 
whom Greuze would have rapturously immortalized 
had he only been wise enough to avoid the fatal error 
of coming into the world a great deal too soon. 

Nor do I desire it to be overlooked that this en- 
chantress was by birth, and by marriage as well, en- 
titled to crown her glittering curls with a " couronne 
fermte," "ce qui ne gate jamais joli visage." 

Diogenes himself could have been pardoned for falling 
a victim to such a being, especially if he had been granted 
the sight of her half - searching, half -bashful glances, 
through those strangely silky lashes, or heard her mock- 
ing, tantalizing, tinkling, bewitching, airy laugh. 

A beauty whose insouciance and piquant freedom of 
speech and manner have all the grace taught by the 
breeding of Courts is fatally dangerous and dangerously 
fatal, for there is simply no escaping such a combination. 
Our siren was, moreover, the most capricious coquette 
that ever broke hearts with a fan-handle, peeping the 
while with mischievous cruelty around the corner of her 
noli-me-tangere shield, in a fashion which even St. An- 
thony one may as well cite celebrities while about it 
would assuredly not have resisted. 

How could anybody doubt that when young Archduke 
Franz came face to face with this entrancing apparition 
he would fall a victim to her extraordinary charm? 
The fateful meeting took place on a gala night at Schon- 
brunn, in one of those superb salons still rustling with 
the melodious swish of robes a la Pompadour, and the 
echo of eighteenth -century " galanteries " a true replica 
of Versailles in its palmiest days with the delicate 
fragrance of poudre a la Marechale and of Frangipani 
lingering in the pale brocades of its draperies. 

38 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

On that particular night, in spite of the grievously 
troubled political horizon, the great palace was full of 
color, of life, of music, and of laughter. Entering the 
salon in question, and finding it untenanted, as he 
thought, the young Archduke was about to retreat to the 
terrace, when, framed by the faint greens and pinks of the 
window-curtains, he caught sight of the slender, graceful 
form of a woman thrown out in exquisite relief against 
the moonlit haze of the flower-laden terrace beyond. 

Clad in ivory -hued laces, and with a diadem of 
gigantic emeralds sparkling in her dazzling hair, stood 
this loveliest. of all lovely Court beauties, her dark eyes 
dancing with sunny laughter, her sweet lips half parted, 
her ridiculously small hands holding back the curtains 
which had concealed her, intentionally, until then a 
picture quite inimitable in its soft, delicious brilliancy. 

For a moment the young man stood transfixed and to- 
tally startled out of his usual self-possession, then he 
bowed profoundly, with the Old-World courtesy, which 
sat so well on this tall, slim, blond-locked boy of seven- 
teen. 

Love is a quick match, easily lighted, which often 
flares into burning flame at a single glance, and from the 
instant when he set eyes on that seductive, bizarre, irre- 
sistible beauty, with her dangerous under-glances and her 
childlike bloom, as dainty as the flush on a sea-shell, a 
dizzy, breathless, all-consuming intoxication mastered, 
snared, and captivated him against his will. 

This was the first whisper of love's song, that music 
which, alas! so often leads a man, to the accompani- 
ment of sweetest melody, from the snowy-perfumed 
arms of Circe to wreck and death and despair. 

Archduchess Sophia when she saw them together 
looked on aghast and horrified. She knew, without 
the consoling possibility of a doubt, that- this queen of 

39 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

loveliness was a coquette, absolutely merciless in her 
wiles, a woman intensely selfish, heartless, one of those 
who "live on the censing of fools, and spend their time 
in fooling wise men," and she decided to resort to he- 
roic measures in order to remove her "future sover- 
eign" from the influence of this particular blonde aux 
yeux noirs. 

The young man had but very little in common at that 
time with the easy-going, merry, happy-go-lucky Vien- 
nese whom he so sincerely loved and admired. Courtly, 
silent, extraordinarily self-contained for his age, pas- 
sions swift and strong had lain dormant within him 
until partially awakened by the gloriously beautiful 
woman whom, having met, he was to leave almost at 
once. 

Had the spell not been broken at one blow, the risk 
for him would have indeed been great, for he was as yet 
too young and inexperienced to perceive her tactics and 
to defy them, as well as to prevent his pulses from 
quickening under the fire of her lustrous eyes; and, 
moreover, clever enchantress that she was, she had, 
even in the short days of their acquaintance, managed 
to impress him with the many alleged sorrows of her 
life, and posed, with misleading and astonishing art, as 
a Miranda married to a Caliban, although this was 
decidedly overstraining the truth. Her lord was neither 
particularly young nor particularly attractive, yet he 
was neither a fool nor a knave. Moreover, he was very 
much in love with her, and, being exceedingly wealthy, 
delighted in satisfying her every caprice. Nevertheless, 
her sweet, pathetic attitude of femme incomprise ap- 
pealed strongly to the chivalry which was Archduke 
Franz's most marked characteristic, and his eyes inva- 
riably softened with adoring pity and boundless sym- 
pathy when they met hers. 

40 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

It had long been decided that, his studies completed, 
Archduke Franz should be appointed Governor of Bo- 
hemia, the dignity to be assumed as soon as he had 
accomplished a series of Royal and Imperial visits 
throughout Europe. But political events, and especially 
the arrival upon the scene of the dusky-eyed blonde, in- 
terfered decisively with this carefully laid plain. 

The tempest which was beginning to rage both within 
and without Austro - Hungary gave the Archduchess a 
more than valid excuse to momentarily tloigner her son. 
Of course it was necessary for him to receive his baptism 
of fire, and with an aching heart, but unfalteringly, the 
mother took the first step in the scheme which put, for 
the first time, many, many miles of battle-ravaged coun- 
try between herself and the only being she loved in the 
world, and also before all was said or done, placed in his 
young hands the reins of government amid Sturm und 
Drang. 

The situation of Austro-Hungary was at that moment 
a truly lamentable one, for that unhappy country was 
at war with a twofold enemy ; at war with Italy beyond 
the borders, and at home, alas! with a steady wave of 
disloyalty and revolt rapidly arising, which threatened 
to submerge and destroy the monarchy itself. Indeed, 
the very air seemed instinct with black despair, and 
from none knew where a sense of some dim, portentous 
tragedy as yet distant, but approaching swiftly that 
threatened the trembling star of the Habsburgs, crept 
into every loyal heart. 

Rising revolution closed in the pathway to the future 
as a gloomy, crumbling tunnel might that of an onward 
rushing train, and so terrifying was its menacing dark- 
ness that Austrians may well be pardoned if they did 
not then realize that their beloved Fatherland was rush- 
ing towards the light, after all, and that the boy who 

41 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

was soon to assume control of that mad and headlong 
course would, with all his brave young heart filled but 
by one thought that of saving Crown and honor, and 
of bringing safely into prosperity the country which by 
Right Divine was his to rule succeed in his terrible 
task beyond all expectations. 

In the spring of 1848 Archduchess Sophia had a long 
and tumultuous interview with the Emperor, which re- 
sulted in his future successor being allowed to join Field- 
Marshal Count Radetzky at Verona, where the old hero 
was encamped, and as soon as this was done the delight- 
ed youth, who, in the enthusiasm of martial ardor had, 
for the time being at least, forgotten his dawning pas- 
sion, set off for the field of war at the head of the Third 
Regiment of Dragoons, of which he was colonel both de 
jure and de facto. 

A terrible void was left in the hearts and lives of his 
parents by his departure, and Archduchess Sophia, to 
whom he had, until very lately, brought nothing but 
unclouded satisfaction, began to ascend the Calvary of 
all mothers in fear and trembling for their sons' lives. 
Even she, the stout of heart, almost broke down when 
bidding him Godspeed a weakness which she would 
never have forgiven herself. Indeed, the few who wit- 
nessed that good-bye scene noticed that she closed her 
eyes for a moment, as if striving for control, and that a 
slight sound, like a quick catching of the breath, escaped 
from her white lips. 

Poor Archduchess! this struggle between her cruel 
anxiety for the safety of her son, her absolute horror 
of showing how deeply she felt the impending separa- 
tion, and with all her disgust at discovering that she, 
strong - minded par excellence, should be but a tender, 
loving, frightened mother, like the rest of that long- 
suffering genus, was nearly the final undoing of her 

42 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

stqical philosophy, and it seemed to her as if this hour 
would drive her beyond the confines of reason. 

There are moments when such a catastrophe seems 
imminent, when a human creature is tortured to this 
bitter extreme, and when all normal faculty of self-con- 
trol, all power of considering matters from the stand- 
point of the necessary, the practical, or the expedient, is 
suddenly and terribly withdrawn. Keenly realizing all 
this, the mother silently fought for strength to retain her 
habitual marble mask, but the effort was one of those 
that sometimes kill, and a blank look came upon her face, 
the look that usually precedes a fainting fit, and the 
hands which she had mechanically stretched towards 
him wavered confusedly, as if groping in the dark for 
something. 

Meanwhile her "Franzi" nothing but her own "lit- 
tle Franzi ' ' now stood before her in his campaigning 
uniform, a slight, almost imperceptible tremor passing 
over his face from the lips upward to the eyes, although 
he was apparently wholly absorbed in the arrangement 
of his sword-knot. 

Neither attempted to speak. Again the mother's 
slightly trembling hands were hesitatingly held out, and 
then impatiently drawn back, as if the controlling spirit 
had laid a harsh, restraining grasp upon the bridle of 
impulse. Suddenly the tension broke, the young war- 
rior seized her violently in his arms, and, with closed 
eyes, pressed his face hard against her neck, like a 
child in pain. 

* * * * * * * * * 

********* 
********* 
Northern Italy, in the early spring, is the nearest ap- 
proach to paradise which man can visit, with its cypress 

43 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

woods and olive-groves of silvered green, its clambering 
rose-vines hanging fragrant blossoms from every bough, 
its thickets of camellia and rhododendron, its fields of 
lilies, where purple dissolves into blue and crimson, blue 
into a thousand mauve, violet, and roseate overtones, 
and the vivid green of the lush grass into every dainty 
elusive kindred hue known to the spectrum. 

In such a climate nature, with the help of a stray 
beam of sunshine, a thimbleful of dew, a puff of breeze 
from the hills, and a handful of rich, brown earth, can 
distil the very fragrance of heaven. 

Amid this riot of delicate odor goldfinches, green- 
finches, blackcaps, nightingales, and robin - redbreasts 
disport themselves and shower their full bright notes 
in tiny rills and thrills and runs of exquisite harmony 
from the protecting depths of the foliage, each little 
feathered throat pulsating in time to the crystalline mu- 
sic, like a live and extraordinarily melodious metronome. 

The spell of spring, and of that lovely land he was 
visiting for the first time, were upon Archduke Franz 
as he arrived in Radetzky's camp. The melancholy of 
departure had absolutely disappeared, and a great hap- 
piness welled up in his heart. 

He was going into action ! What magic in those few 
words. Heir to a great Empire and to great traditions 
of honor and fearlessness, to great duties and obligations 
as well, he owed it, therefore, to his ancestors to do the 
very utmost within his power in order to revive and 
maintain the Habsburg honor, of which he was the 
custodian he, the banner-bearer of his race! The 
time had come, God be praised! when he could unfurl 
this banner bravely and nobly in the sight of the 
world. That was his mission, the work he was born 
to do, he thought exultantly, as he directed his steps 
towards the spot where he was to meet Radetzky. 

44 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Bor a moment he stopped, gazing straight ahead at 
the fair landscape flooded with brilliant sunshine, but see- 
ing nothing save his familiar phantasm striding proudly 
before him to victory and glory. Excepting this there 
was nothing else in all created space for him that day 
but battling armies, waving standards, and the rush of 
charging squadrons ; and at the sound of the war-trumpet 
his soul came forth from its hiding-place and shone in 
his eyes, looking fearlessly towards the future. 

The Field-Marshal did not relish the responsibility 
placed upon him by the arrival of the Heir-Apparent to 
go under fire for the first time under his Radetzky's 
orders, and almost comically did the face of the young 
Archduke lengthen when the blunt-spoken old warrior 
curtly exclaimed : 

"Your Imperial Highness's presence here is very dis- 
agreeable to me! Should anything happen to you, what 
will be said of me ? and if you should be taken prisoner 
all the advantages that I might otherwise gain over the 
enemy will, of course, be set at naught." 

He spoke peremptorily, his multitudinous wrinkles 
expressive of extreme displeasure, his bold, unflinching 
hawk eyes forcing themselves to forget that he was ad- 
dressing his future sovereign. 

The Archduke could not repress a nervous and rather 
abashed little laugh, but, with a slightly breathless and 
triumphant enunciation, he replied: 

'"Herr Feldmarschall,' it may have been imprudent 
to send me here, but here I am, and here I stay. It is 
my place!" Then, drawing himself up and saluting 
stiffly, he added: " I have the honor to report myself for 
duty." 

Radetzky hastily turned his eyes in which a suspi- 
cious glisten had suddenly appeared down the avenue 
of tents, before which file after file of soldiers stood at 

45 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

attention, for this brave veteran of eighty-two now saw 
in the lad of seventeen his own youth rising up before 
him, as well as the ardent hope of the Imperial House he 
had served so long and loyally. With a deep inclination 
he grasped the Archduke's hand, and would have raised 
it to his withered lips, but, freeing himself, the young 
man threw his arms about the bent old form and em- 
braced his commanding officer as had he been his own 
father, while the palest nicker of a smile passed over the 
imperturbable face of the aide-de-camp in attendance 
as he watched the conflicting emotions of his chief. 

Neither the Archduke nor the Field-Marshal spoke 
again until, walking side by side, they had reached the 
latter's quarters. 

Radetzky often declared afterwards that his had not 
at that period been a bed of roses, for he had the un- 
precedented and uncomfortable honor of numbering 
among his officers and generals not only the Archdukes 
Albrecht and Wilhelm, sons of the victor of Aspern, who 
had joined him at the beginning of the campaign, but 
alas! now also the apple of Archduchess Sophia's eye 
Archduchess Sophia who was feared throughout Aus- 
tria her first-born, fashioned by her strong, clever 
hands to occupy the Dual Throne, and whose death she 
would never forgive. 

As for the young Archduke himself, he from the first 
moment took to active military life as a duck takes to 
water, and the highest-trained, longest-inured soldier of 
Radetzky 's army did not endure privation with more 
content and more fortitude than he. 

On May 6th he received his baptism of fire at Santa 
Lucia, and bore himself throughout that fiercely fought 
battle in the splendid manner so fitly celebrated by the 
lines of Wernhart "Die Feuerprobe" of which I here 
give a copy for those who admire war-poetry. 

4 6 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Die Trommel rief zum Sturme 
Einst bei Sanct Lucia, 
Da gieng es an ein Streiten 
So kuhn von beiden Seiten 
Wie ich kein zweites sah. 

Die S6hne Osterreichs rangen 
Urns Recht so manche Stund'; 
Doch furchtbar kam das Feuer 
Aus Lucias Gemauer, 
Wie aus der Holle Schlund. 

Da ritt aus den Schwadronen 
Ein junger Officier, 
Er flog beim Kugelregen 
Dem Feindeshort entgegen, 
Voll edler Kampfbegier. 

Als er an unsern Reihen 
Gehemmt des Rosses Lauf, 
Da rief er "Vorwarts Jagerl 
Seid ihr des Ruhmes Trager 
Auf dieser Thurme h'nauf!" 

Das Wort kaum ausgesprochen 
Hat Wunder schon gethan; 
Die Feinde zu bezwingen, 
Gieng's wie auf Adlerschwingen 
Den steilen Berg hinan. 

Der schmucke Reiter wusste, 
Dass Muth nur gilt im Krieg, 
Bestand im Kampfgetobe 
Mit uns die Feuerprobe, 
Und unser war der Sieg. 

Kennt ihr den Heldenjungling, 
Der kiihn voran uns flog? 
Franz- Josef war's, der Kaiser, 
Der sich schon Lorbeerreiser 
Gepfluckt als Erzherzog. 

It would take a cleverer pen than mine to adequately 
describe the look of absolute anguish which so many 

47 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

noticed on Radetzky's face on that memorable day, 
when he saw Archduke Franz quietly check his charger 
in the thickest of a storm of bullets, and without so much 
as a flicker of the eyelids remain watching intently the 
progress of the enemy. Nor had the natural excitement 
of the moment, the bracing smell of powder, the swish- 
ing sound of the wind-tossed flags anything to do with 
the martial attitude of this neophyte, for he was indeed 
a born soldier. He gently waved away Feldmarschall- 
Lieutenant Baron d'Aspre, who was imploring him to 
take shelter, conjuring him to remember the extreme 
value of his life, and whose ferocious glares and gestures 
of impotent exasperation and despair were received by 
the object of all this undesired solicitude with a disarm- 
ingly winning smile, as, settling himself squarely in his 
saddle, the amused Archduke replied, slowly, softly, but 
with complete and inexorable obstinacy: "I won't go!" 

This day of initiation was, perchance, the longest, the 
most agitating, the most elating, and the most unfor- 
gettable the young Archduke had ever spent. Expect- 
ant of the end, as one who toils upward towards some 
towering hidden summit of dazzling magnificence, he 
lost the sense of time, of fatigue, of hunger, of thirst, 
every sense, in fact, but that of a strange joy, almost 
fierce in its intensity. For hour after hour there was 
no relaxation of muscles, no throwing off of tension, 
the lids never drooped over the intently gazing eyes, the 
firm lips scarcely parted; the whole energetic young 
figure was alert with passionate vitality, with fasci- 
nated enthusiasm. 

He never forgot, at any rate, the sunset of that day, 
of which he still loves to talk, the dull blue of thunder- 
clouds that brooded in the west, the sky of purple and 
gold, the warmth and soft transparency of living color 
amid which the fiery sphere went down in indescribable 

48 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

majesty, seen through the ruddy veil of smoke drifting 
from the battle - field an orgy of sky and cloud tints 
frontiered by the darkness of threatening vapors, which 
formed, had he but known it, so fitting an emblem of 
his future. 

Prudence had been at no time among his prominent 
characteristics, and this glorious defence of the Austri- 
ans, this lucky throw of Radetzky's last card, was not 
calculated to teach caution to a young man normally 
deficient in it. The latent instinct in him the instinct 
that had flashed out in days of keen sport on the dan- 
gerous summits of the Tyrolese Alps was that of abso- 
lute, unconscious courage, and he found something of 
himself, a familiarity as of previous experience, in the 
heat of battle, the rush of the charge, and the reckless 
deviltry of clashing regiments. 

Tears of pride stood in his eyes as he saw a handful 
of men twelve companies fighting successfully against 
five entire brigades, an almost unheard-of, almost unsur- 
passed feat of arms. These men were the flower of Ra- 
detzky's army, and they moved with the ferocity of 
tigers, with wondrous celerity, hurling themselves upon 
the Piedmontese, their hands gripped hard upon their 
weapons, their white coats stained with dust and blood, 
until Austrian and Italian were blended in one inextri- 
cable mass. 

The Austrian cavalry, hemmed in between infantry 
and artillery, for a long time was unable to charge, every 
man keeping his life by a ceaseless hand-to-hand sword- 
play, beautiful to behold, but nevertheless bitter, stifling, 
cruel work, during which many a saddle was emptied, 
many lives crushed out under the stamping hoofs of the 
maddened horses. But at last the moment long looked 
for, long desired, arrived, and with lightning rapidity 
Archduke Franz seized it. Spurring his horse against 
4 49 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

the wall of swarthy, savage Italian faces, and waving his 
sword above his head , the young colonel literally threw 
his dragoons upon their now swaying and yielding ranks. 
The men rushed forward in a superb effort, like arrows 
launched from a thousand powerful bows. The impetu- 
osity of their charge was irresistible, and bore King Al- 
bert's troops headlong before it. Men fell on every side, 
to be ground into pulp upon the blood-soaked ground. 
Above the hellish din, the tumult and the shouting, the 
wild neighing of chargers, and the roar of musketry and 
of cannon, rang out a succession of coolly given orders 
from the ever-changing spot where, with the reek of 
smoke and of carnage around him, rode Archduke Franz, 
a slim, inspiring figure on his rearing, fretting, curvet- 
ting charger, as he forced his way through a storm of 
blows and a hurricane of projectiles, leading the sweep 
of his squadrons over the lifeless forms of the fallen. 

When at length this superb feat of arms was over, 
the soldiers crowded shouting about him. They had 
had enough of monarchs who sat sedately at home and 
looked upon a throne as the most comfortable of rest- 
ing-places; a man of action was what they desired, and 
here, indeed, was a slender, blue-eyed Prince, their fut- 
ure Emperor and Generalissimo, who had been tried and 
not found wanting! Therefore, with enthusiasm raised 
to boiling-point, as much by the modesty of his bearing 
as by what he had done, they rent the air with cries of 
"Hoch!" they kissed his hands, his clothing, his very 
boots, and, had he permitted it, would have carried him 
in triumph upon their shoulders amid frenzied hurrahs. 

As he came face to face with Radetzky, the grave, 
noble-looking old man doffed his plumed hat and bent 
to his saddle-bow. 

"God grant," he said, in a strangely unsteady voice, 
"that our soldiers may emulate Your Imperial Highness 

5 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

wherever our colors are displayed. God bless Your Im- 
perial Highness!" 

"I did nothing," replied the Archduke, quietly. "Any 
of your officers would do what I have done." And then, 
pointing with his naked sword towards the battle-field, 
"It is with to-day's dead that glory lies!" 

Once again wild, frantic, tumultuous cheers sounded 
like the call of trumpets, sending his name through the 
heavy, powder -laden air. He was their predestined 
leader, and every heart beat with the joy of having 
found him ; nor would one man of that crowding soldiery 
have hesitated to follow him into the very jaws of death 
had he but said the word. 

A great courage, a cool head, and a quick decision are 
the chief qualities of an officer, but to those qualities 
Archduke Franz added one which, if it is not so essen- 
tial, is, at all events, most rare and endearing a kind- 
ness of heart, which in truth knew no bounds, an infinite 
compassion for those who had suffered the mischances 
of war, and though he had been many hours in the sad- 
dle, and had tasted no food since dawn, he now turned 
unhesitatingly towards the wounded and dying that 
strewed the ground. 

The sights which met his eye were assuredly awful 
enough to make a far more hardened soldier quail; but 
though at times he could hardly keep back the tears 
from his eyes, he labored like any surgeon amid that 
scene of suffering and misery, without shrinking from 
those who writhed in their agony, or from the distorted 
corpses, with mutilated limbs, scattered singly or hud- 
dled together as they had fallen, in ghastly mounds of 
horrible entanglement, under the rising moon. 

Tenderly, fearlessly he continued his self-imposed task, 
seeking for lingering life among both friend and foe, and 
saving it, too, in many cases, with a curious, untaught 

5 1 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

surgical skill, until, at length, when the night was far ad- 
vanced, utterly exhausted, he consented to eat and rest, 
and rolling himself in his long cavalry coat sank into a 
half-lethargic slumber under the calm stars shining with 
undisturbed lustre in the deep violet sky far, far above 
his head. 

At home, meanwhile, the lonely mother, although 
none of those about her would have believed it, thought 
night and day, with increasing agony, of the naked hor- 
rors of war. To her war was not a great pageant dressed 
in the splendid array of romance the presence of a be- 
loved life at the front is not conducive to such illusions 
but a grewsome tragedy, a bitter, deadly truth, made 
only more terrible by the glitter of accoutrements, the 
polish of costly weapons, the snowy whiteness of tents 
over which droop the silken folds of gold-embroidered 
flags, all that pomp which but emphasizes hunger, cold, 
heat, racking physical pain, thirst, travail, and torture, 
except for the novelist or the poet looking on from afar, 
and whose perspective is so often faulty. 

No one ever heard the Archduchess sigh, or saw tears 
in her deep-set eyes, and she never in any way alluded to 
her torturing anxiety, not even under the seal of con- 
fession. Its pain was buried in her own breast, and none 
guessed its depth. Her expression had always been grave, 
her beauty of a severe type, her moods silent; therefore 
her present frozen calm successfully covered and con- 
cealed the fire burning within. Her only consolation 
was her stern conception of the demands of honor, and 
to these she forced herself to yield obedience, instead 
of to those tyrannically haunting impulses which bade 
her recall her boy, for the time was not yet. 

A letter written privately to her by Radetzky , however, 
and which she mentioned to none, made her reconsider 
this verdict with passionate alacrity. Archduke Franz 

5 2 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

was, doing far more than honor demanded, far, far more 
than even she had expected of him. This being so, she 
decided to bring him back, but without laying bare her 
shameful fears, without sacrificing her self-respect and 
dignity, for superficially she had been throughout so in- 
flexibly unemotional that she could not thus at the last 
openly acknowledge her weakness. 

That very day she sought her brother-in-law, whose 
Imperial will was, alas! but as spun glass in her hands, 
and who greatly feared her. He was conscious that her 
intelligence was far keener than his own, that she was 
never vague or uncertain as to any course of action, that 
it was impossible to hoodwink her; and instinctively 
realized, although her wire-pulling was almost always 
too subtle for his dull vision, that he was only a mere 
puppet, everlastingly dancing to her imperious pip- 
ing and eternally obeying her viewless directions. He 
dreaded her silences, generally pregnant with storm, 
and yet more her closely reasoned, ironical speeches, 
which invariably rose in the peroration to a caustic, 
withering, exquisitely rounded eloquence of polite in- 
vective. He felt keenly her contempt for his compla- 
cent narrowness of mind, his boundless egotism, his 
small, contracted views, begotten of formula, his singu- 
larly conventional religiosity, which clipped and trimmed 
everything to suit his own wishes, and especially his 
weak, ailing body, already at fifty-five that of an old 
man, and his yet weaker mentality. 

Emperor Ferdinand had inherited from his father, 
Emperor Francis, a veneration for rectitude, but nature 
had not endowed him with his father's capacity to un- 
dergo bodily and mental exertions for the welfare of his 
people, and the latter seldom understood him. 

The art of pleasing is more based on that of seeming 
pleased than is generally known, and the sickly, fretful 

53 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

man who occupied the throne gave the continual im- 
pression that he lamented his unhappy lot in season and 
out of season. In this case, also, the old proverb which 
says, " Be honey and the flies will eat you," was glaringly 
exemplified. He was too meek, too easily cozened and 
led with delicate flattery, and especially too anxious to 
conciliate both the cabbage and the goat to ever cope 
successfully with the fearful problems he had been set 

to solve. 

Another saying one of wise old Talleyrand's Fer- 
dinand unfortunately never remembered , ' ' Live with your 
friends, but remember that one day they will be your 
enemies," and this neglect ended by costing him dear. 

Assuredly his life as a monarch was not a happy one. 
The long, weary days unrolled themselves drearily be- 
fore him, beginning in the morning with altercation and 
strife, continuing with cares and fatigues, ending often 
in rough dispute, and knowing peace of a sort only dur- 
ing the rare absences of Archduchess Sophia; but, of 
course, a man more energetic than himself could easily 
have alleviated, if not entirely obliterated, all these 
troubles. 

On a delicious morning in early May, when thousands 
of song-birds filled the grand old trees of Schonbrunn 
with melody, or played hide-and-seek in the tall, feath- 
ery weeds and purple iris along the margins of the foun- 
tains, when the deer bounded through the gcassy, beech- 
studded slopes of the park, trampling violets, primroses, 
and stars of Bethlehem under their scurrying hoofs, 
Archduchess Sophia joined the Emperor in the "Glori- 
ette," where he was delightedly inhaling the soft, fra- 
grant breezes. 

At her approach a heavy gloom overcast his wrinkled 
countenance, and he rose to greet her with an almost 
childish pettishness. 

54 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Jhe Archduchess inclined her proud head in acknowl- 
edgment of his curt bow, and, seating herself upon a 
marble bench, let her eyes dwell earnestly upon the sun- 
lit landscape, as if to do so were her only object in life. 

"A beautiful morning," said the Emperor, nervously, 
with an involuntary twitching of the lips which he 
never could restrain when speaking to her. 

"Beautiful!" assented the Archduchess, and then re- 
lapsed into cool silence. 

The aide-de-camp, standing behind his sovereign, said, 
later, to a friend, that the wretched old man looked to 
him at that moment like a bird trembling at the near 
approach of a snake. 

"We may have a storm later on," continued the mon- 
arch, with a desperate attempt at conversational ease 
and an embarrassed nod of his senile head in the direc- 
tion of what is called, in Austria, "die Wetter Seite" 
(the weather side). 

The Archduchess deigned to lower her gaze to the level 
of her brother-in-law's cringing form. He had suddenly 
assumed a look of age, and appeared like one double his 
years. As her glance met his, he started, and dropped 
his gold -headed cane with a clatter upon the marble 
pavement. The aide-de-camp rushed forward, picked 
it up, handed it respectfully to the Emperor, and re- 
tired precipitately into the background, as if glad to 
avoid the storm-centre. Poor Ferdinand would have 
greatly liked to do the same, but perforce remained 
where an unkind fate had sent him, balancing the cane 
delicately in his thin, blue-veined hand, and studying 
its turquoise-paved head with every appearance of great 
and absorbing interest. 

"Don't make yourself uneasy," said his tormentor, in 
the gentlest of voices, "the stones are quite uninjured!" 

The Emperor hastily turned away, and, looking across 

55 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

the shaded, dark -green turf, dappled with wavering 
spots of rippling sun-gold, tried to collect himself. 

The breath of that peerless morning was like a power- 
ful extract of fragrant blossoms fresh from the hand of a 
heavenly parfumeur, and he was strangely conscious of 
its charm despite the fear tugging at his heart, that 
pitiful anguish which should, in the nature of things, fall 
only to the lot of extreme old age, when the soul nears 
its flight and feels its inability to struggle with the diffi- 
culties and trials of life. There came over him a pas- 
sionate longing for peace and rest, for cessation of noise 
and worry, for escape from this apprehension of coming 
evil, this dread that, like Merlin's, even now shook him 
as had he been touched by a chill wind, although it was 
spring-time and the glorious day drowsed warmly on in 
soft fire and lovely coloring, under his weary, anxious 
eyes. 

Well did he know what she had come to upbraid him 
about, well did he realize what sins of omission she laid 
at his door, and greatly did he inwardly revolt at her 
unsparing criticism and oft -repeated "I told you so." 
He, with the Habsburg Family and Court, had done little 
else but scoff at the mere idea of a successful revolution in 
Austria. Even now it scarcely occurred to any one that 
the throne was standing in imminent peril and that at 
any moment the bulwarks of imperialism might burst 
asunder and the tide of anarchy rush into its magic cir- 
cle, scattering destruction and death all around. The 
mass of the people were at the outset opposed to all 
advanced ideas, their superb loyalty to the reigning dy- 
nasty was regarded as absolutely unshakable, and when, 
in the previous month of March, devastating waves 
began to lap at the foundations of a hitherto inviolate 
authority, the phenomenon was beheld with astonish- 
ment, and received with gay ridicule, not only by the 

56 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

nobility, but by pretty much everybody else as well, 
always excepting the sharp-sighted Archduchess Sophia. 

Her continual mefiez vous was unfortunately disregard- 
ed, for though the seeds sown by agitators and malcon- 
tents fell upon a soil not yet sufficiently prepared to in- 
sure a quick fruition, the efforts of the noisy and fanatical 
minority had at length produced a very noticeable crop. 

The reforms instituted by Emperor Joseph, half a cen- 
tury before, had their share in precipitating the catas- 
trophe, for, although they had doubtless alleviated many 
of the people's miseries at the time, they had not reck- 
oned with the spirit of discontent, which, in these our 
beautifully enlightened days, was bound to arise from 
measures which practically extended yet more the power 
of the Crown. 

Poor Emperor Joseph! His self -written epitaph was 
indeed a true one: "A Prince whose intentions were 
pure, yet who had the misfortune to see all his plans 
miscarry." 

The time was now ripe for the fruition of just such 
miscarried, misdirected reforms. Metternich, the great 
chancellor, the omnipotent arbiter of two reigns, after 
trying his best to control the upheaval, had failed ig- 
nominiously, and since a fortnight had been a fugitive in 
England. The right to carry arms had been granted to 
the ignorant multitude, liberty of the press gave oppor- 
tunity and audience to every scheming or crack-brained 
agitator, and finally, on the 26th of April, a constitution 
had been accorded to a people unused to and unfitted for 
popular government. Indeed, none save a monarch of 
almost unparalleled strength and sagacity could have 
averted the misfortunes that were now to overtake the 
country in this sad year of 1848. 

With war beyond her borders, and revolution within 
them, Austria was, indeed, in a sorry plight; but during 

57 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

the silence that fell between the Emperor and his sister- 
in-law, on that exquisite May morning, he thought of 
nothing but his own grievances, and the cruel injustice 
of Providence towards himself in giving him a mentor 
who loomed unceasingly in his immediate neighborhood, 
like a tempest-cloud that darkens the sky with a menace 
sure to be fulfilled. 

In the cool assumption of right as a matter of course, 
there lies an irresistible power. This was one of Arch- 
duchess Sophia's greatest weapons, especially when deal- 
ing with her weak and easily cowed brother-in-law. She 
never gave him the slightest chance of doubting her 
perfect title to dictate to him with superb insolence, for 
even in her worst wrath she was ever self -controlled, 
shrewd, and wise. He was paying dearly, indeed, for 
that most unpardonable and terrible of follies irreso- 
lution. 

At last she spoke: 

"Do you believe in spectres, Ferdinand?" Her voice 
was calm and indifferent as usual, and yet he fancied 
that he could catch the echo of some hidden irony in 
the low, level tones. 

"In spectres? What spectres?" he asked, uneasily, 
instantly on the defensive. 

In the distance the fresh young voice of little Arch- 
duke Ludwig- Victor's French nurse rang out suddenly 
under the trees: 

" On a mis la graine en terre, 
Saute done la brune au son du fluteau!" 

"Spectres of your own making, for instance," the 
Archduchess replied, with a sneer, faint but unmistak- 
able, which revealed her meaning completely. 

"En terre prs du ruisseau 
Au son de la flute, au son du fluteau " 

58 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

came the gay, lilting melody, answered by a childish 
pipe, repeating, joyfully: 

"Au son du fluteau! au son du fltiteau!" 

The Emperor stirred nervously. Then a sudden cour- 
age seized him to probe to the depth of her meaning and 
discover if he could not for once silence those cruel lips 
and force those calm, scornful eyes to droop before a 
master. Perchance he had made a succession of false 
moves. Perhaps instead of retreating he ought to have 
attacked. So he now assumed a sterner manner, and 
said, with what decision he could command: 

"I 'wish, Sophia, that if you have anything to say to 
me you would do so in plain language, instead of adopt- 
ing that of metaphor. I do really," he concluded, al- 
most recklessly. 

"Do you?" she murmured. There was a note of gen- 
uine surprise in her voice, and she regarded him curious- 
ly, as though she had discovered something new, puz- 
zling, and quite amazingly ridiculous about him. 

He struggled against the influence of her eyes, his dry 
fingers grasping the handle of his gorgeous cane with 
unconscious force as he leaned forward, resting an elbow 
on his crossed knees, and forced himself to look her un- 
swervingly in the face, but already his resolution was 
ebbing away. 

"You and I could surely understand each other, 
Sophia, if only you would be less inclined to think that I 
wish to thwart you, for, on the contrary, I am only too 
happy when I can meet your wishes. Tell me what it is 
that you desire?" 

A bowl of milk to a cobra is the better part of valor, for 
it enables one to retreat unmolested; but Ferdinand's 
abrupt change of manner, his sudden swerve, and his 
attempt at charming, instead of risking a bite, was not 

59 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

lost upon so clever a woman as his antagonist. Her ex- 
pression altered from dreamy sarcasm and half-curiosity 
to extreme alertness, and there was a sharp, belligerent 
vitality in her whole attitude as she turned towards him, 
so quickly that he almost dropped his cane again. She 
stared hard at him, her face set, her chin a little forward, 
the whole woman a gaze of extreme power. 

"How very curious," she said, at last, "that a man 
born on the steps of a throne, born to be a ruler of men, 
should be so readily influenced by his likes and dislikes ! 
Neither should ever interfere with prudence, Ferdinand, 
and you are, I assure you, singularly rash when you 
try to propitiate me" the pronoun was superbly em- 
phasized "in such a paltry fashion. You might just 
as well attempt to appease a whirlwind by means of a 
nice little green-enamelled watering-pot." 

"My dear Sophia!" pleaded her victim, looking dis- 
tressedly round for his aide-de-camp, who, however, had 
long since retreated from view, although duty compelled 
him, until formally dismissed, to remain within earshot. 
But the Archduchess cared little for the piteous misery 
so evidently overwhelming her Imperial relative. It 
was clearly her place to frighten him into acceding to 
what she considered necessary for the welfare of the 
Crown, so she laughed a little, satisfied laugh, and, cross- 
ing her slender hands upon her lap, mercilessly resumed: 

"In comparing myself to a whirlwind, I am not, I as- 
sure you, underrating my humble personality. A whirl- 
wind is a very wholesome thing it sweeps pestilence 
away and drives contagion before it." 

Ferdinand instantly abjured any lingering remnants 
of an intention to face the music. "I am shocked at 
you, Sophia," he said, coaxingly, and with a sickly smile. 
"What is the use of railing at yourself in this fashion?" 

Archduchess Sophia laughed again her exasperating 
60 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

little laugh, as if her only object was to see him writhe. 
She was feeling her way. Her object clearly in view, it 
was only a question which of her many weapons to use ; 
meanwhile a little judiciously applied touch of the whip 
would open the way for useful attacks of every de- 
scription. So she studied him with searching eyes, 
which he, as usual, avoided, looking intently at a deli- 
cate pearly cloud travelling across the radiant sky like 
a graceful swan upon a lake of azure. 

He would have sincerely preferred an encounter with 
a virago from the slums, flying at him with oaths and 
curses, or tearing him bodily like a wild cat, to this 
fencing and parrying with a polished, shrewd, absolute- 
ly relentless adversary, who took advantage of every 
weakness, and knew where to find every defect in his 
thin, ill-fitting armor. More than ever before he felt like 
a man upon whose breast crouches some beautiful, fierce 
animal, some exquisitely graceful, velvety leopard or 
jaguar, from the clutches of which, struggle as he will, 
there is no escape. But a sullen, desperate anger be- 
gan to rise in his breast, against life, against fate, and 
especially against her. His hands suddenly closed on 
his ill-fated cane so that the knuckles whitened with the 

grip- 
Archduchess Sophia, with the swift delicacy of per- 
ception that made her so dangerous an enemy, divined 
something of his feelings, and concluded it would be 
unwise to push her pusillanimous antagonist too far. 
The worm might turn, and then, what? So, with even 
more than her accustomed suppleness, she assumed a 
tone of honest bluntness: 

"When I spoke just now of spectres, my dear Ferdi- 
nand, I meant simply that ours is an age of cowardice, 
that chivalry is out of place in it, and that we, who once 
could consider ourselves as the masters of the universe, 

61 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

are now haunted day and night by all the grim phan- 
toms of revolution and civil war. In saying 'we,' I of 
course allude to our order, but especially to yourself, 
for whom revolution is no longer a spectre, but a stern, 
ghastly reality, with which you must count and against 
which you must fight. As racing-men say, you are not 
having a very 'rosy time' of it just now!" 

The tragic expression of fear and exasperation upon 
Ferdinand's face gave way to a bitterly humorous smile. 
"No," he acquiesced, in an undertone, with a sidelong 
glance at her through half-closed lids, "I am not having 
a very 'rosy time' of it, as you are pleased to put it." 

"Naturally, for apart from anything else you are 
garroted by the collar of your own conscience, or, if you 
are not, you should be!" The opportunity for the thrust 
had been too tempting. Her conciliatory intentions 
were for the moment quite forgotten, and she tapped the 
marble pavement impatiently with her narrow, admi- 
rably shod foot. He shrank from the incisive sentence, 
then quickly leaned forward. The tension snapped! 

"My possible ruin seems to amuse you. Truly, the 
joy of disparagement never dies!" His voice was rough 
and uncontrolled, and he clinched his hands yet more 
convulsively together. "You think I can no longer gov- 
ern! You dare to hint oh, God! no, you actually say 
that my soul, my body, my honor are worthless, worn 
out, that I am but the parody of a king, an apology for a 
man! During all the years I have sat on the throne, 
your derision, your ridicule have made me wince and 
smart at every turn. You are eternally unsatisfied, you 
censure everybody, you would walk through blood to 
the neck to attain your desire. What are you? What 
are you? What do you want of me? Tell me now, at 
once, this moment, and I will give it to you so as to gain 
peace once for all!" 

62 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

His tone, at the outset almost one of fierce invective, 
progressively weakened to a sort of desperate queru- 
lousness, and the last words finished in a stifled wail. 
He had become passionately excited, his eyes were those 
of a madman. Archduchess Sophia still sat quietly 
watching him with an expression of undisguised sur- 
prise and interest. She seemed about to reply, when 
suddenly, as if impelled by an external force, he sprang 
to his feet with an oath: 

"What is it that you do want?" he cried, furiously. 
"My crown to put on the curly pate of your son? Do 
you think you can get it? By God! you'll never get it 
while I live! I'll show you yet in whose hands the 
power lies power, the only thing you love, the only 
thing that touches and moves you! What else do you 
care for? You have but contempt for all humanity, 
your husband, your children except Franz, who is to 
be the instrument of your insane ambition your whole 
family, the Empress myself. Ah, especially myself! 
Do you think I will always be your tool ? I have been 
a weak fool for you to sacrifice at your pleasure, to crush 
under the wheel of your triumphal car but I'll show 
you now even at this late hour how little I care for your 
plots and counter -plots, for your " Gasping for 
breath, inarticulate with rage, he stretched out his hands 
towards her, as if to seize her or hurl her from him. 

Archduchess Sophia rose also. She was as calm as 
ever, although this was apparently but the calm before 
the storm; for her eyes looked as if she longed to do 
some act of violence for which great physical force would 
be necessary, and yet beneath her icy armor ran a cold 
undercurrent of fear. This scene was something en- 
tirely new. After all he was a king, with the powers of 
his great office ready to his hand, though the hand was 
such a feeble and unsteady one. Now that, in the ex- 

63 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

tremity of his anger, he had momentarily forgotten his 
overwhelming dread of her, he found a certain dignity, 
despite his undignified language; he stood erect at his 
full height, and looked more the monarch than she had 
ever seen him. Had she gone too far? had she ruined 
all? would this miserable man actually assert himself 
after all, overrule her, thwart the plans she had laid, 
and drag Austria down with him to destruction? Had 
she really wrung the galled withers once too often ? 

Her breath failed her, she shuddered at the vision that 
flashed before her eyes; for just a moment, one short, 
fleeting moment, she was daunted, had he but known it. 
She bent her head and set her teeth hard. 

If Ferdinand had read her aright, if he had seized this 
golden opportunity, if he had had a little tenacity of 
purpose but it was not to be, and it is well for the 
future of a great country that, exhausted and terrified 
by his own unexampled violence, he did not rise to the 
occasion. Sinking back into his great chair he closed 
his eyes, overcome by the sickening feeling that he 
was struggling against the inevitable, against his own 
wretched fate, that fate he always accused of all his 
misfortunes, and he bowed his head to the tempest 
which he knew would now be his punishment. 

Archduchess Sophia's eyes flashed with triumph. So 
she had not been mistaken ; it was only a second of gal- 
vanic energy, after all! Now her path lay plain before 
her, and all there was in her of tenacious persistence and 
ruthless resolution rose up to do battle for her son. 
Win she would, and now! 

She was as one inspired ; her extraordinary intensity 
of feeling communicated itself with telegraphic rapidity 
to Ferdinand, and he drew back from her apprehen- 
sively. 

With one swift movement she was beside him, and 

6 4 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

gripped his shoulder beween her slender fingers with 
a force that staggered and shook him from head to foot. 

"Sophia! for God's sake, Sophia!" he cried, in terror. 
"What are you going to do?" 

"You want to know what I am going to do?" she said, 
in a low voice through clinched teeth. "Well, I think 
I'll tell you, but you will wish you had never asked." 

She paused, pressing her lips tightly together, as if to 
control a rising tide of exultation, and smiled down at 
him contemptuously. How collapsed and helpless he 
looked, shrunk into the depths of his great chair! She 
wondered that for a moment she could have doubted 
her ability to crush him. As for the Emperor, he would 
have cried out if he had entertained any hope of being 
heard, but he had by this time completely forgotten his 
aide-de-camp, who, even had he been summoned, could 
certainly not have helped him out of this mauvais-pas , 
and so he looked up at his tormentor with abject fear 
and almost hypnotic fascination, as if he were drawn 
against his will to utter destruction within the whirl- 
pool of her ever-growing power. 

"You want to know what I am going to do?" she re- 
peated, still smiling and with a hard, cold certainty of 
intonation and enunciation. "You will know in good 
time, but first I'll tell you, once for all, what I want, 
what I have wanted for many years ah, yes! longed for 
as no other woman has ever longed for anything, for no 
woman's world has ever meant anything to me. You 
accused me just now of feeling contempt for all human 
relations. Well, it is, in a great measure, true. I am 
not one to be attracted by second-rate emotions, or by 
the various sensations which you sentimental people 
call love filial love, parental love, love " tout court." I 
need not enumerate them all, even you must know what 
I mean! I never could comprehend such idiocy. What 
s 65 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

is life to most women but an ugly, degrading succession 
of days and nights, shackled, enslaved, and cursed ? And 
all because every woman's ambition turns towards love, 
or the pretence of love, towards social successes, luxury, 
a grand marriage, or, if she be so inclined, towards chil- 
dren that are first mere playthings and afterwards be- 
come tyrants!" 

Her face changed suddenly, as the face of one might 
change who passes from the first exultation of success 
to the fruition of long-deferred hope. She gazed down 
at him with unseeing eyes, her hand dropped from his 
shoulder, and it seemed as if his cowering figure and gray, 
drawn face had slipped from her consciousness, as things 
no longer of consequence or meaning. To the submis- 
sive Emperor there was something almost appalling in 
this visible union between the evident activity of her 
soul and the marble-like inactivity of her body; her 
silence seemed unnatural, worse than speech, and it 
brought additional distress to his overstrained nerves, 
without, however, lessening that curious and weird fas- 
cination she exercised over him. After a moment she 
resumed, still without appearing to see him, and in a 
slow, meditative voice, as if thinking now aloud rather 
than addressing him. 

"Women! what are they even those whom one calls 
great but creatures of the moment, beings whom a mere 
grain of dust may blind, who are bred to smother hate 
under smiles and disgust under compliments, who are 
broken in early youth to the full hypocrisies of human 
life, and who, as a rule, are governed by purely sensual 
motives? What were Catherine of Russia, Cleopatra, 
Marguerite of Burgundy, Elizabeth of England, and 
their like, but slaves to their impulses, endlessly dis- 
satisfied, unreliable, untrustworthy, unable to conquer 
themselves or to lead others, except by cruelty!" 

66 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

,Then her eyes flashed into life again. 

"I am not ruled by what fills up other women's lives, 
by hand touching hand, or lips touching lips, by the per- 
fume of a flower or by the state of the weather. I do 
not exist to fill other women with envy or to capture 
men. Thank God, I am made differently! My desires 
have nothing in common with theirs. My one ambition, 
my only one, is power, as you say, but not for myself! 
No, not that, but for the boy whom, ever since his birth, 
I have fashioned with my own hands to be a king. My 
conception of the nobility of human nature cannot be 
said to be absurdly high, but a king must be sans re- 
proche, free from all the ordinary tinsel of modern roy- 
alty, its shams, its pretences, and its small, narrow, sor- 
did views. Austria needs such a king to drag her from 
the gutter of anarchy and revolution, where you and your 
predecessors have criminally allowed her to fall. No, 
do not interrupt me! You are a tricky egotist, without 
a thought that is not concentrated upon self. You 
have always considered yourself too good for the wear 
and tear of real sovereignty!" 

The faintest little quiver of revolt showed itself in 
Ferdinand's eyes, but she silenced him with a peremptory 
wave of her slim, authoritative hand, and continued: 

"You have completely ignored your sacred responsi- 
bilities. Such meekness as yours is, in a monarch, an 
absolutely contemptible virtue, for some people call 
meekness a virtue, do they not? To yield, out of sheer 
lack of spirit, has been your usual principle throughout. 
Your rule one should hardly call it that has been a 
grotesque farce, with, added to it, since a year, a dan- 
gerous element of tragedy, and during it you have 
never accomplished anything for the good of your 
people, but only infinite harm by your insane neglect 
and pusillanimity." 

67 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Her mouth was twisted with contempt, her voice had 
become harsh and grating while pronouncing her inex- 
orable judgment. 

The Emperor shuffled his feet in a manner suggestive 
of increasing discomfort, his dull eyes beginning to 
blink, as eyes do in dazzling sunshine. 

"You want me to abdicate in favor of your son?" he 
said, suddenly, in a trembling voice. "Why do you not 
say so?" 

For just an instant Archduchess Sophia started in 
obvious surprise. Was her Imperial dummy about to 
behave like an intelligent being and spare her any 
further effort? 

"Is not that what you want?" he asked again, in his 
thin, high-pitched, querulous voice. 

"That is ex-act-ly what I want," she replied, slowly 
and deliberately. 

But Ferdinand was not quite as malleable as she had 
hoped. He fidgeted and writhed under her scrutinizing 
gaze, his face twitching fantastically and tears actually 
rising in his lack-lustre eyes. 

"I can't do it, Sophia, indeed I cannot. Think of my 
deserting the throne when it is menaced of showing the 
white feather ! Think of the ridicule the the baseness 
of it! I may be a weak and worthless man, as you say, 
but this I cannot do ; it would be like seeing hell through 
its open doors!" 

The Archduchess's face whitened and her straight 
brows ominously lowered over her eyes. 

"You miserable wretch!" she cried, shaking from head 
to foot in uncontrollable passion. "What idiotic volte- 
face is this, after living a life of utter, remorseless selfish- 
ness, during which all the manhood you ever possessed 
has dwindled away to nothing? What insanity has 
Overtaken you to propose playing the part of a man now, 

68 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

not to mention that of a sovereign? Do you imagine 
that I will allow your still-born scruples to interfere 
with the fulfilment of my boy's destiny? Do you fancy 
that I will let the monarchy be killed by your feeble at- 
tempts to retain a hold upon what is left of it?" 

She bent lower to scan his ashen cheeks, which looked 
as if they would be as cold to the touch as those of a 
corpse. 

"You are," she resumed, keeping her eagle glance 
upon him, and with a ring of sarcasm in her voice terrible 
in its cold intensity "you are a fit person to hold the 
reins of a runaway chariot of state, are you not ? A nice 
yellow image to waken from your reptilian lethargy now 
now that it is too late!" 

The Emperor gazed at her with almost animal fear, 
like a poor, crouching dog "begging off" from punish- 
ment, but it was only too evident that she had no inten- 
tion of relenting. With a pitiful effort he succeeded in 
controlling himself for a moment, then shame, humil- 
iation, and the violence of change mastered him, and 
with a groan he hid his face in his hands. 

An almost tangible silence reigned for a moment, 
broken only by the fresh murmur of the fountains tossed 
by a rising breeze. Then, in her ordinary calm and 
commanding voice, the Archduchess resumed: 

"You shall recall Franz at once! He has received his 
baptism of fire, he has showed the metal he is made of, 
and there is no longer any reason for him to" she had 
almost said "endanger his life," but checked herself and 
said "remain absent" instead. "The strong hand of 
youth, integrity, and fearlessness can alone arrest the 
course of events; therefore you will arrange everything 
as secretly and quietly as possible for your abdication. 
I do not intend to have this matter discussed en famille, 
it is always best to keep one's family at arm's-length! 

69 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Not even the Empress is to know about it as yet. She 
is an excellent creature, a dear, good soul, but she is 
entirely at the mercy of her father - confessor, and I 
desire to avoid complications. I do not ask you to lie 
about the matter, because a lie is always a mistake. 
Simply refrain from talking. I am not of a diplomatic 
turn of mind, but diplomacy is an elastic word, and 
the greatest diplomacy of all is to hold one's tongue. 
In conclusion, let me add, that should you in any way 
play me false, be it ever so slightly, I have means to 
force you into obedience!" 

The Emperor rose to his feet. He was still very white, 
and there were dark rings around his eyes he confessed 
afterwards that the very sound of his sister-in-law's 
voice had given him a sensation of actual nausea! 
There were beads of perspiration on his forehead, he 
cleared his throat as if he were suffering from a cold, 
and fidgeted about as if desperately anxious to escape. 

"Is that all," he asked "all you really require of 
me?" 

She did not answer. Her gown rustled slightly as she 
straightened herself to her full height. 

He cleared his throat again. "Is that all?" he re- 
peated. 

"Yes, provided you promise what I ask, and keep 
that promise, I think it is all; but promise you must!" 

She spoke determinedly, and his face became distorted 
with an expression of absolute loathing as she bent tow- 
ards him. Then he replied, reluctantly and in a manner 
calculated to inspire serious doubts as to his sincerity: 

"I promise." 

"Unstable as water," she exclaimed, piercing him with 
her keen, comprehending eyes. "But I think that this 
time you will follow the line of the least resistance by 
holding to your word." 

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A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Then, with a slight bow, she walked rapidly away, 
leaving him beaten and humiliated, his colorless features 
transformed into a vehement mask of grief, hatred, and 
impotent rage; undignified, almost absurd, and rocking 
to and fro, as if about to fall. 



CHAPTER III 

EMPEROR FERDINAND, when confronted by forces that 
daunted him for to others he opposed a monolithic 
inertia was, morally speaking, very like a hollow rub- 
ber ball, yielding and soft, but extremely difficult to 
permanently impress. Archduchess Sophia had ap- 
plied force, and with such energy as to momentarily 
impair the Imperial elasticity, but there remained still 
an almost undiminished power of rolling, rebounding, 
and executing resilient evasions of various kinds, and 
though her threat of enforcing obedience was not by any 
means an idle one, yet great things take time in doing, 
and to push a monarch from his throne judiciously, and 
with due regard to surrounding circumstances of a some- 
what chaotic nature, must be reckoned among these. 

Ferdinand, while incapable of defending it, prized his 
Imperial dignity as none but utterly selfish men can 
prize any of the so-called good things of this life, as none 
but insignificant men can prize a purely fortuitous dis- 
tinction, and now that the possibility of losing the 
throne stared him in the face, he only clung the tighter 
to it. 

As a consequence, if he had passed his existence dis- 
agreeably before, he now lived in a veritable Inferno. 
Wildly suspicious of everything and everybody, his 
whole attitude was that of one continually expectant of 
some outrage, his eyes restlessly searched his entourage, 
half defiant, incessantly watching, fearful of neglect, or 
of any sign that his secret was known, and that any one 

72 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

should see that his sceptre was passing away from 
him. 

In the meanwhile, the indomitable Archduchess bided 
her time, confident that her hand held the master card, 
and keeping him under the surveillance of an eye that 
sent a chilly thrill through him every time he encountered 
its penetrating glance. 

Events moved rapidly onward, however, towards the 
realization of her schemes. Less than two weeks after 
the memorable interview in the "Gloriette," the Em- 
peror and several members of the Imperial family, in- 
cluding, of course, the Archduchess, removed from the 
surcharged atmosphere of Vienna to loyal Tyrol, and 
settled at Innsbruck. This was not exactly a flight, but 
a "prudent step " on the part of a man too sick of body 
and of heart to offer effective resistance. 

After feebly attempting for a time to direct affairs 
from this secure retreat, the Emperor wearied even of 
this shred of sovereignty, and sent Archduke John to 
Vienna, giving him full vice -regal powers. Unfortu- 
nately, there was another viceroy in Hungary, as inde- 
pendent of the Viennese representative as the latter 
was of him, so that with the weak central authority 
thus divided between two mutually hostile sections of 
the country, the people drank deep of the first and most 
inalienable of the rights of freemen, more dear even than 
"life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," that of 
quarrelling at large, violently, and indiscriminately. 

German and Czech, Pole and Italian, Magyar, Slovak, 
and Croat, all pursued their racial and provincial interests 
without the slightest possible regard for the integrity of 
the Empire. Prague lay in ruins after a fierce bom- 
bardment and several days of desperate street-fighting, 
and while Hungary stood ready to fight both the Slavs 
and the Imperial authority, Jellachich, Ban of Croatia, 

73 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

summoned an assembly of Croatian leaders to concert 
measures both against the Emperor and the Hungari- 
ans. Truly the apple of discord had begun to roll 
merrily on! 

Archduke Franz had, much to his disgust, been re- 
called from the Italian war soon after his mother had 
dictated that measure to his uncle, and spent a restless 
two months among the mountains striving vainly 
since his whole heart and soul were far away upon the 
plains of Lombardy to interest himself in the scenes 
and sports which he had loved so well and which had 
never failed him before. 

When at length the Emperor tardily decided to re- 
visit Vienna, and to take up his residence at Schon- 
brunn, he accompanied him there, glad to be so much 
nearer to the scene of events, even if he were not al- 
lowed to take in them the part for which he longed, 
even if he were but exchanging the quiet of the hills 
for the calm still lingering on the edge of the storm. 

There was nothing about the grand old Imperial resi- 
dence to remind one of the neighborhood of that unruly 
Kaiserstadt, where now raged such a melee of racial and 
social strife. Everything that met the eye bespoke it a 
"haunt of ancient peace"; vision ranged restfully over 
the low terraces with their broad flights of shallow mar- 
ble steps and ivy-mantled balustrades, drowsy gardens, 
heavy with fragrant odors, dazzling with a profusion of 
magnificent bloom, great groups of velvet -boughed Si- 
berian pines spreading tentlike over emerald lawns, 
corbeilles wherein the flowers of Africa and India arrayed 
themselves in beauty, and deep defiles of luxuriant foli- 
age through which glittered the tall jets of the foun- 
tains; the laughing voice of the waters and the joyous 
songs of many birds, alone disturbing the summer silence 
that hung golden over all. 

74 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Jn Archduke Franz all this loveliness touched no re- 
sponsive chord ; to him the splendid gates of Schonbrunn 
were as the four walls of a prison. He was no longer a 
boy, for though not yet quite eighteen his birthday 
fell on the i8th of August he was a man grown, he had 
lived within the circle of that fierce light which beats 
upon a throne, and been prematurely ripened by all the 
forcing influences that dwell there. Already he had 
known warfare, danger, the leadership of men, the pleas- 
ures of duty well done, the intoxication of applause; and 
he cursed his present inaction while blood flowed on 
every side, while there were fights to be fought, and 
swords to follow the hoofs of his charger. With a hun- 
dred heroic dreams surging in his brain, he fretted in- 
wardly, as a high-mettled horse frets at the martingale 
hampering its every movement, and sank deeper and 
deeper each day in the reserve and moodiness of hope 
deferred. 

For the first time in her life Archduchess Sophia al- 
most regretted a step taken by her, for during this period 
of inaction the young Archduke fell once more under the 
spell of the woman who had been the primary cause of 
his joining Radetzky's army. 

To this headstrong beauty the conquest of the cold, 
proud, self-reliant boy, who had once already escaped 
her wiles, had become a burning question of unsatisfied 
vanity, almost of baffled malice. She was in the most 
perfect years of her youth, at the height of her matchless 
loveliness, she had not a wish she could not instantly 
gratify, and her slender, arched foot was irretrievably 
pressed down upon the neck of the great Viennese 
world. She ruled it as she listed. Moreover, she was 
thoroughly aware of her power, and of the fact that 
the sceptre of great physical beauty and the skill of a 
born tactician were hers, and therefore did not doubt 

75 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

that thus armed she could vanquish both the Imperial 
youth and his imperious mother. 

Alasl of what avail is it for us to erect our sand 
castles for attack or defence when any chance blast 
of fate may blow them to nothing? Life hinges upon 
hazard, and at every turn wisdom or folly are mocked 
by it ; so at least both Archduchess Sophia and her fair 
antagonist were fated to speedily discover. 

It must be confessed that the lady played her cards 
with amazing cleverness. Her low, sweet whisperings, 
the gleam of her luminous eyes, with their dangerous 
eloquence, her thrilling, musical voice, and crystalline, 
tantalizing laugh, all were brought into play with ex- 
treme felicity, and last, but not least, the irresistible 
mournfulness which has already been mentioned, and 
which at times gave so winsome a droop to the heavily 
fringed lids of her dark eyes, thrilled her chivalrous young 
admirer with ardent and perilous sympathy and pity. 

Archduke Franz's strength had as yet, of course, the 
polish of steel that has never been dimmed, and he 
thought himself quite secure, believing, as all very 
young men do, that he could handle fire without feel- 
ing the flame a complete self-confidence not without 
its own grandeur, but bound to find itself mistaken 
ninety-nine times out of every hundred. 

She drew him on and on; the real instinct, the true 
pleasure of this soft, exquisite creature being, after all, 
cruelty and the satisfaction of her every whim, and he, 
whenever he was in her presence, showed by the very 
darkening of his eyes, the lowered gentleness of his voice, 
that, as day followed day, his enslavement grew more 
and more complete, and that her toils were being drawn 
tighter and tighter about him. 

It was not alone Archduchess Sophia who writhed and 
fumed as she watched this fascination of a boy, so gentle 

76 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

of nature, so true of honor, so strong, and so frank, and, 
in one word, so different from others, by the most capri- 
cious of coquettes ; for all those who loved him thought 
alike on the subject, none daring, however, to warn him, 
save one alone who rushed in where angels might have 
been afraid to tread. 

Prince Richard Metternich was too young as yet to 
have been influenced by life, which, to a greater or less- 
er extent makes egotists and dissemblers of us all, and 
had so far quite escaped its corrosion. He loved Arch- 
duke Franz like a brother, nay more than any of his 
(Franz's) brothers loved him for they were by now 
becoming gradually estranged from him by the slowly 
growing jealousy I have already alluded to. 

The bond between young Prince Metternich and his 
future sovereign was a close and firmly riveted one 
and their attachment to each other so uncommon that 
"Richard Goldenherz " ("the golden-hearted," as he was 
called by his comrades), although himself a boy of barely 
nineteen, considering that it would be but a wretched 
friendship that would shirk the truth when its telling 
was needed, went straight to the enamoured Heir-Ap- 
parent and coolly took him to task upon a subject no 
man in his senses thinks it prudent or wise to touch upon 
to another. 

Moreover, this wiseacre, yet in his teens, far from 
mincing matters, spoke out his mind roundly, and de- 
clared unblushingly and in the most decisive fashion 
that the all-conquering lady of his thoughts was "a pan- 
ther with merciless claws," " a capricious witch, scatter- 
ing coquetries broadcast, and making her unfortunate 
husband ridiculous," and, in one word, attributed to her 
all the wanton treachery of a social Circe, playing un- 
scrupulously and matchlessly with the hearts and lives 
of men. 

77 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Franz listened to him with ominous tranquillity, and, 
when at last the impetuous flood of words ceased, in- 
formed his self-appointed mentor that even "old friend- 
ship" may be officious and impertinent, that the office 
of moral censor sat very ill on so inexperienced a coun- 
sellor, that attentions to young married women were not 
by any manner of means uncommon transgressions in 
gay Vienna, and that by this and by that as the Irish 
put it his (Richard's) virtue, need not be alarmed, since 
the lady under discussion was not at all what he sup- 
posed her to be, but an angel of purity and innocence, 
enduring with! admirable and extraordinary fortitude 
her most miserable lot. 

The poor counsellor, totally routed and deeply hurt 
when he found that his excellently meant advice was 
so ill-received, crept away to nurse his wounds in soli- 
tude, while Franz, stung to madness by words which had 
unwittingly heaped fuel on the flame, began to be cer- 
tain that there remained for him on earth nothing 
worth heeding, remembering, or caring for, but that one 
slender, graceful being who had shackled him, as in gyves 
of iron, with the silky locks of her yellow hair. 

That very night there was a demi-gala dinner at 
Schonbrunn on the occasion of some birthday or an- 
niversary, and, in spite of Archduchess Sophia's pro- 
tests, "Archduke Franz's Siren" as the enchanting 
blonde aux yeux noirs was now designated was present, 
looking more enticing and more than ever determined to 
conquer. 

With her glittering hair crowned by the velvety blue 
of priceless sapphires, her exquisite form shrouded but 
not in any way concealed by clouds of snow-white gauzes 
light as morning mists, and her dark eyes gleaming 
with mischief, she seemed to have set her will upon 
making her beauty more than mortal, in order to goad 

78 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

until he was utterly her bond-slave, "pied et poings 
lis." His eyes followed her with a look of admira- 
tion which she fanned to fire by glances of superhuman 
witchery, or by the mere sweep of her dress across his 
feet. To arouse and then play with the self-contained 
nature of her Imperial prize was a regal de deesse for this 
voluptuous coquette, and certainly on that night she 
surpassed herself and mastered him as Vivien did her 
lover under the murmuring foliage of Broceliande. 

Perchance, the only compensation which the revolu- 
tionary climax offered was that it put yet another tem- 
porary end to this perilous game, else, like Antony, for- 
getting all for his Queen's blandishments, the young 
Archduke might have been sore tempted to leave his 
shield for foes to mock at, his sword to rust, and his 
honor to drift away while he lay lapped in the love of a 
worthless woman. But all was not yet over between 
those two, alas! -and more was to follow when graver 
cares than those of love and passion lulled a little around 
the young Emperor that was to be. 

September was on the wane, and autumn drew near, 
heralded by a glory of heliotrope and " Louise de Savoie " 
roses, which filled the old park with exquisite fragrance, 
when alarming intelligence arrived. Hungary had al- 
ready broken loose, Kossuth was dictator, and swiftly 
on the heels of these heavy blows came the news that 
Count Lamberg, hurrying to take the chief command of 
the Imperial troops in the revolted kingdom, which had 
just been intrusted to his strong, firm hands, had been 
met by a mob upon the bridge at Buda-Pesth, and bru- 
tally hacked to pieces with scythes and spades. A week 
later the seismic wave had radiated to Vienna itself, as 
to a volcano which for a long time has muttered and 
threatened unheeded, so that the 6th of October was 
rendered memorable by an explosion that not only 

79 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

numbered among its many victims the Minister of War, 
Count Baillet de Latour, but sent Emperor Ferdinand 
galloping as fast as his horses could drag him from the 
vicinity of his raging capital. 

A day or so before the outbreak, having been asked to 
authorize a scheme for quelling the vehemence and tur- 
bulence of his good burghers by force of arms, the Em- 
peror, who, though irresolute and broken in health and 
spirit, was by no means devoid of the hereditary Habs- 
burg courage, ordered his carriage, and, accompanied 
only by one aide-de-camp, proceeded to drive through 
the concourse of violently excited people thronging the 
Leopoldstadt, the Josephstadt, and all those thorough- 
fares which had been reported to him as most danger- 
ous. 

Of course, what was bound to take place happened, 
for the Viennese, loyal at heart, in spite of their over- 
heated heads and seething rancors, and always disposed 
to make much of their Emperors, as soon as they caught 
sight of Ferdinand leaning carelessly back in his victoria 
and accompanied merely by an aide-de-camp, began to 
cheer him enthusiastically. Naturally this delighted 
the monarch, and upon his return he declared, with a 
chuckle, and in the popular dialect invariably spoken 
by the Imperial family and the aristocracy: 

" /' auf mane guten Wianer Schiessen ! Gar Ka' Red; 
die san ja mane liaben kinder!" 

(I shoot my good Viennese? Not a bit of it. They 
are my own dear children.) 

Thus absolutely deceived by the expressions of an al- 
most instinctive sentiment of affection for the ruler, 
Ferdinand was thrown into a correspondingly severe 
confusion and consternation when Count Latour fell a 
victim to the obstinately conciliatory Imperial policy, 
and, absolutely at his wit's end, he could think of no 

80 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

better move than his lamentably ill-advised flight to 
the Moravian fortress of Olmutz. 

The maintenance of order in the capital had been in- 
trusted to the National Guards, a militia for the most 
part disaffected, and to the Academic Legion, a student 
corps frequently designated in its political aspect 
which was insanely inflammatory and seditious as the 
" Aula," from the fact of its holding meetings in the hall 
of the University. Troops of the line to the number of 
some twelve thousand men, under Count Auersperg, were 
scattered about the suburbs of the city. 

The students earnestly desired "freedom," and this 
they could find according to their notions only under a 
republican regime. Desirous of doing away with the 
existing form of government, they naturally hated and 
feared the War Minister of a constitutional monarchy, 
who, moreover, was a man renowned for courage and 
energy, and lost no opportunity of making him a scape- 
goat for all the evils, real or imaginary, that they consid- 
ered the people were suffering. They worked actively 
for his overthrow among the ignorant populace, de- 
nouncing him in inflammatory speeches at tavern meet- 
ings or street assemblages, and, even within the precincts 
of the University itself, circulating placards demanding 
vengeance for his alleged misdeeds, and inspiring news- 
paper cartoons against him. Finally, a few days before 
the outbreak, when a large part of the National Guard 
and the proletariat were convinced that Latour was 
really a monster, deserving of even worse than death, 
they worked themselves up to the point of declaring that 
he should be hanged. 

Nor was the match to fire the train long wanting. 
Troops from the capital had been ordered to proceed 
against the Hungarians, for whom, as rebels against the 
government, the malcontents had a fellow-feeling, and a 

6 81 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

certain grenadier battalion, long quartered amid metro- 
politan delights, had no desire to go to the front, and 
accordingly fraternized with the disaffected portion of 
the populace and the National Guard. 

On the night of the 5th of October a deputation of Na- 
tional Guards waited upon the War Minister, asking that 
the battalion should not be dispatched from the city. 
Latour referred the request, as a matter beyond his im- 
mediate decision, to the military commander, Count 
Auersperg, who, of course, refused it, and directed that a 
force of cavalry should be on hand to insure the obedi- 
ence of the recalcitrant grenadiers. 

The National Guard and the "Aula" could not tamely 
submit to this new exhibition of "arbitrary" power. 
Delegations went out to the suburbs, under cover of 
darkness, and worked to such effect that by the following 
morning a section of the railway over which the troops 
were to be sent had been torn up, and a barricade, 
manned by a strong force, erected on the bridge across 
which it was necessary for them to march. In a few 
hours, when an attempt to force the passage of the 
bridge had resulted in the desertion to the populace of 
the mutinous grenadiers, and in the sanguinary defeat 
of the attacking column by overwhelming numbers, the 
whole city was aflame with excitement, for was not tyr- 
anny again at her work of crushing the liberties of free- 
men? While the military hesitated, and their com- 
mander rushed off for a consultation to the War Office, 
whither many ministers, deputies, and officers of the 
National Guard had already betaken themselves with a 
similar intent, heated orators harangued tumultuous 
crowds in the streets, gunsmiths' shops were looted for 
weapons, frothing students rushed from house to house 
directing that boiling water and boiling oil be kept in 
readiness to cast from the upper windows, and barri- 

82 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 



cades rose as if by magic across the principal thorough- 
fares. 

Meanwhile, from the War Office, orders were issued 
to put down by main force the armed resistance in the 
suburbs, and some pacificatory proclamations to the peo- 
ple, who were now beyond all pacification, were made. 
Outside the city there was a collision between a detach- 
ment of the Academic Legion and the Government forces ; 
inside, the loyal section of the National Guard, while at- 
tempting to prevent the sounding of the tocsin, was at- 
tacked by the mutinous majority, aided by the mob, and 
driven in a bloody rout into the great cathedral church 
of St. Stephen, where they barricaded and defended 
themselves with the greatest valor. 

Count Latour now made the first of his magnanimous 
mistakes. The guard of the War Office, in the heart of 
this rebellious city, consisted of little more than four 
companies of infantry; but on hearing how the loyal 
militia were besieged in the church he sent three com- 
panies and two cannon to their relief, thus decreasing 
his available force to about two hundred men. The 
officer in command was under orders to return for the 
protection of the War Office as soon as he had accom- 
plished his mission ; but the mob had by now increased 
to such overpowering numbers that not only was the re- 
treat of his forces cut off, and they compelled to escape 
by whatever route offered, but a battalion of infantry 
sent from the army without , to insure the safety of Count 
Latour, was attacked so fiercely from all sides and from 
the windows of the houses that it retired in confusion. 

Then the mob surged up to the gates of the War Office. 
Cut off and beleaguered on every side, Count Latour had 
disposed his little garrison for a siege, fastening the great 
front gates, barricading the rear doors, and disposing his 
men for the defence of the windows. 

83 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

It was a strange sight that the gray-headed soldier 
looked down upon. Below surged and swayed a terrible 
human sea, roaring and howling with a ferocity that fre- 
quently blended all words and individual cries into one 
heart-shaking whirlwind of sound. There was a bub- 
bling foam of open-mouthed faces, those strangely, in- 
conceivably villainous and brutal types that seem for 
years, for centuries even, to hide in the cellars and sew- 
ers of a great city, and to creep forth in dark times like 
these, when Cruelty and Horror are abroad ; while here 
and there burst up from the weltering commotion a 
spray of naked arms, brandishing crowbars, cudgels, 
lengths of lead pipe, pikes, axes, hammers, cutlasses, 
and a motley array of weapons captured from the 
defeated soldiery or looted from the shops of the 
city. 

Now and again the dark waves broke apart, showing 
for an instant, before they rushed together again, in- 
dividual forms, insane atoms that went to form the total 
of this hideous flood, figures in the uniforms of the Na- 
tional Guard, the Academic Legion, the mutinous grena- 
dier battalion, laborers, thieves, murderers from the 
slums, market-women shrieking as ferociously as their 
Parisian sisters of 1793, and not infrequently well-dress- 
ed people, whose respectable appearance was somewhat 
contradicted by the furtive way in which they slipped 
about and threaded their way among the press. These 
were the agents of various political societies, the walk- 
ing delegates of revolution, dropping a word here, 
urging there, advising everywhere, avoiding active par- 
ticipation as far as possible, but pushing on the mad- 
dened throng to deeds of blood. The yells and cries now 
rose in a full-throated tempest, and now broke and scat- 
tered in hoarse, individual vociferations, culminating 
always in one terrifying shriek of "Death to Latour! 

84 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Do^vn with the tyrant! Nieder mit dem Hund. Hang 
him! Hang him!" 

Many times during the immediately preceding days 
the War Minister had been warned that his life was in 
danger. He had shrugged his shoulders then, he shrug- 
ged them now, as he listened to these roars of menace, 
and coolly surveyed this packed mass of human wild 
beasts thirsting for his blood. Below in the court-yard 
his one cannon was pointed at the great doors, which 
groaned and thundered to the assault without; behind 
it stood the gunners, steady at their post, waiting the 
command to fire; on either side was a solid column of 
grenadiers with fixed bayonets, their officers at their 
head. Every time the doors seemed to yield or buckle 
to a fresh blow, he could see the men start and lean for- 
ward, like eager hounds with the quarry in sight, wait- 
ing for the slipping of the leash. 

What would happen when that gate did finally burst 
open was before the minister's inward eye. The crashing 
discharge, the canister at that terribly short range cut- 
ting a ghastly lane of death through the dense masses with- 
out, the ordered charge of disciplined troops passing over 
that maddened herd, the flight, the shrieking and the 
slaughter of women and children. A well-timed sortie of 
even so small a force might disperse the cowardly mob, 
and, on the other hand, if the grenadiers were beaten 
back, he could at least defend the building until help 
should arrive. The orders were given. Should he swiftly 
countermand them before it was too late? At any mo- 
ment the gate might give way. He felt that he had al- 
ready leaned too much towards conciliation; besieged 
and threatened, he had not yet fired a shot in defence, 
when to defend himself seemed the only soldierly nay, 
common-sense thing to do. And yet there were his in- 
structions from the Emperor. Should he risk it ? Should 

85 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

he make one more trial for a peaceful solution of the 
trouble? His eye glanced again over the impenetrable 
press of ignorance and blind fury outside, and he smiled 
in pitying contempt. 

A shattering blow from without and a crash in the 
court-yard announced that a portion of the gate had 
been driven in. With one stride the minister was at the 
window. 

"Don't fire! Don't fire!" he cried to the troops be- 
low. "Throw open the gates!" 

"Let them come in, I will speak to them!" he said, 
turning impatiently to the deputies and ministers who 
surrounded him, and were trying to reason with him. 

An aide-de-camp ran down with orders. At once 
the threatening muzzle of the gun was swung around, 
and as the dismayed and disheartened soldiers drew 
back, the gates opened, and the dammed-up flood swept 
through the portal with a roar. It was the rush of be- 
siegers through a breach, not by any means the advance 
of a populace impressed by the War Minister's frank, 
manly, and heroic display of confidence. 

Quickly he himself saw his fatal mistake, but, alas! no 
opportunity was given him to retrieve his position; Al- 
most immediately the people thundered through the 
corridors, drunk with rage and triumph, shrieking again 
loudly for his blood. Gaining the stairway from the 
now thoroughly demoralized soldiers set to guard them, 
they swarmed through the upper stories of the building, 
battering in the doors, hurling the furniture and equip- 
ment of the rooms through the windows into the street, 
plundering or destroying with insensate brutality every- 
thing that came in their way. There was no time to be 
lost. 

Urging the ministers and others who offered him as- 
sistance to look to their own safety, Count Latour, at- 

86 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

tended by his aide-de-camp and several officers of the 
army, ascended to the top story to seek a way of escape. 

The minutes passed. Drunken fury, unimaginably 
disgusting and horrible to behold, reigned in the War 
Office. There were many ring-leaders but no leader, 
and the search for the hated Latour appeared to be de- 
generating into a mere orgy of robbery and wanton vio- 
lence, when loud shouts arose without, and those craning 
from the windows could see a white flag slowly forcing a 
passage through the dense crowd towards the gate. A 
deputation had arrived from the National Diet for the 
protection of the War Minister! 

Slowly pushing their way up the packed staircase, 
now thrust upward by a rush from below, now forced 
down by a torrent from above, the deputies at length 
encountered some of Count Latour 's companions, who, 
despairing of escape, had prevailed upon him to seek 
concealment while they scouted through the building 
for possible assistance ; and they in their blindness con- 
trived that the deputies should reach the Count. Swift 
consultations followed in an isolated chamber, while the 
tumult sounded all about, lost in the labyrinth of rooms 
and corridors. Count Latour's resignation was urged 
upon him, and granted by that stout old soldier, who 
conceded for the restoration of peace what he would not 
for his own safety; but even this failed to pacify the 
hordes that were by now storming towards the doors of 
the apartment in which he was, clamoring to see him, 
and threatening even the lives of the mediators if he did 
not show himself at once. The resignation as written 
was made conditional upon the approval cf the Em- 
peror ; but though the deputies repeatedly protested that 
this would be a fatal objection, Count Latour would not 
have it otherwise. 

Nevertheless the people's representatives still had con- 

87 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

fidence in their official influence. Pledging their pro- 
tection to the Count, they again faced the pikes and 
crowbars, declaring that he should be arrested in due 
form for trial and impeachment, but demanding as a 
condition that a guard be selected who would swear to 
defend him to the death. Twenty-five men, workmen, 
students, and National Guards, came forward and sol- 
emnly took the oath; a moment later the door opened 
and Latour stepped out into the corridor, calmly, as if 
about to assume the chair at some great assemblage. 

"I am here, meine Kinder, 11 he said, quietly, "a man 
of honor, with a clear conscience, does not fear either 
bayonets or daggers. You have offered to guard me. 
I surrender myself into your hands!" 

A roar of execration was the only reply. The depu- 
ties and the guard closed around him and began to de- 
scend the staircase, closely pressed and almost suffocated 
by the mob. Oaths, yells, and threats of death rang 
from all sides. Some of the guard endeavored to protect 
their prisoner, but the most part, animated by the worst 
intentions and anxious only to prevent his escape, added 
their voices to the storm of jeers and insults. 

Panting, struggling, forcing towards their victim from 
every direction, the crowd seethed and surged around; 
hands thrust through the ring of men, plucking and tear- 
ing at him ; one dashed his hat over his eyes ; here and 
there clenched fists dealt him heavy blows; one man, 
taller than the rest, leaned over and slashed him across 
the face with a quadrupled cord, shouting, "This is to 
hang you with!" and every moment, as they slowly de- 
scended towards the court-yard, some defender or dep- 
uty was torn from his side and the places filled by im- 
placable monsters, who were rapidly losing even all 
human semblance in their bestial ferocity. 

Shouts of savage welcome greeted the arrival in the 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

court-yard of the terrible cortege. "Hang him! Hang 
him!" roared the mob. Pushed, pulled, struck at, vio- 
lently passed from hand to hand through a whirl of 
bristling weapons, his own guard now foremost among 
the assailants, the unhappy minister was thrust up 
against the wall. A young officer, greatly devoted to 
him, Captain Count de Gondrecourt, breaking a way 
through the maddened throng, flung himself before his 
chief, vainly defending him with his bare hands, but he 
was torn off and cast aside, like an importunate child 
too insignificant to punish, and there was no further 
protection for Count Latour. One assassin cut at him 
with a sabre, another struck him a fearful blow with a 
crowbar; hammers, pikes, bayonets, musket-butts de- 
scended upon him. Dashed to the ground by a tem- 
pest of blows, trampled by the feet of the mob, and 
literally torn limb from limb by rending hands, he was 
yet seen to snatch at a bayonet which was thrust into his 
thigh. Still living, he was dragged through pools of his 
own blood and hanged to a window-bar. What was left 
of his mangled, shredded body fell when the cord broke, 
and the last spark of life was trodden out by furious 
market-women, stamping with demoniacal laughter 
upon that palpitating, mutilated thing, which had been 
one of God's grandest, noblest creatures. 

His clothing, torn to bits already, was collected for 
souvenirs, handkerchiefs were dipped in his blood, and, 
until late at night, the naked and hideously mangled 
trunk swung by the neck from a lamp-post, an object of 
insult for the populace and a target for the bullets of the 
National Guard. Thus died an honorable gentleman, 
whose only offences were his loyalty to his sovereign and 
his dauntless courage. 

At Schonbrunn the consternation was great. All was 
hurry and bustle for immediate departure. Ferdinand, 

89 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ill and helpless as usual, looked like a beaten child, and 
avoided the eye of his young nephew, whose ardent soul 
chafed at the inaction into which he was forced. Poor 
Archduke Franz ! He implored to be allowed to join the 
troops and throw himself at the throat of that tower- 
ing spectre of revolution which was having it all its own 
way at Vienna, and when this request was refused he 
positively sickened with despair, and with the hungry, 
unsatisfied desire to fight, and to be of use, instead of 
sitting at home like a frightened woman. 

When, finally, at four o'clock in the morning, the 
Court departed under strong military escort to take 
refuge in the fortress of Olmutz, he yielded to his uncle's 
agonized entreaties and rode beside the Imperial car- 
riage mile after mile in the gray dawn, trying by his pres- 
ence to reassure and console the broken-spirited old man 
moaning and muttering prayers on the silken cushions 
inside. 

That terrible journey, in the teeth of a furious storm 
of wind and rain, remained like some ghastly nightmare 
upon the mind of Archduke Franz. Water fell in sheets 
from the leaden skies, hiding the whole landscape and 
filling the air with masses of gray vapor. In places the 
road was barely passable, for the smallest brooks had 
suddenly swollen to regular torrents, sweeping away the 
grassy banks and turning everything to liquid mud. 

As the day advanced the gloom deepened amid an 
increasing sound of splashing water, that muffled the 
noise of the carriage-wheels and the stamping of the 
horses' hoofs. Soon the fog and the darkness compelled 
the fugitives to advance more cautiously and slowly, so 
that hours followed hours, and became a long, slow tort- 
ure to the Emperor, and an unceasing weariness to all 
those who were with him. 

At last the fortress was reached, and the Emperor, 

90 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

whp for the first time in his life had experienced true 
discomfort and real, crushing bodily fatigue, broke down 
completely as he was assisted to alight. In spite of the 
lateness of the hour the young Archduke seated himself 
beside the bed whereon his Imperial uncle had hurriedly 
been placed, and now cowered, lost in lamentation and 
almost delirious with exhaustion and remorse. 

Outside the storm still raged furiously, growing wild- 
er and wilder as the night advanced. The wind beat 
against the massive walls of the fortress and shrieked 
like a tortured soul through the endless windings of the 
stone-flagged passages and corridors, echoes of thunder 
now and again sounded like salvoes of artillery, while the 
blue-and-purple glance of lightning shot through the 
chinks of the thick curtains drawn before the windows. 
But the tumult in Archduke Franz's heart was far more 
terrible than that which was abroad over the little town- 
ship of Olmiitz. Vainly he strove to console and com- 
fort his wretched charge, vainly he tried to reason with 
his own misery and anger ! Stiff with fatigue in his chair, 
scarcely moving, except when he bent over the stricken 
Emperor to dose him with soothing potions, he felt the 
torture of a great shame and a great disappointment. 

It was his first experience of mental pain, and he im- 
agined that all joy, all hope was being trampled to death 
within his heart by its intensity, and felt as if years must 
elapse before strength was once more given to him to 
gather up his moral courage. His imagination dwelt 
persistently upon the scenes described by the few im- 
perialists who had witnessed the cowardly assassination 
of Latour. He saw incessantly a maddened mob tearing 
and rending the body of that brave soldier whom he had 
known and loved, and he felt sick, as a man may feel 
sick at some revolting sight, his flesh shuddered, and he 
loathed himself for having consented to come away, for 

91 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

having shared a flight which he considered as too humili- 
ating to be borne, and degrading beyond anything a 
monarch could have done. He thought bitterly of Louis 
XVI. running away from the scaffold, a deed he had al- 
ways looked upon with contempt, and smothered a curse 
through his clenched teeth. Why not face danger, risk, 
peril ? Would not certain doom have been far easier to 
bear than remorse and shame? Why not show a bold 
front and emulate those other people of the Terror who 
did not run away, and who walked up the slippery, crim- 
soned steps of the guillotine with smiling lips and chal- 
lenging, undaunted, unflinching eyes? Why not "faire 
son metier de Roy T ' why not ? Ah ! why not show this 
frenzied canaille that fear is not numbered among the 
hereditary vices with which monarchs are credited ? Was 
the Imperial ermine growing too heavy for modern shoul- 
ders, were the orb and the sceptre no longer in harmony 
with the time? 

The lad writhed at the thought, and cold perspiration 
stood thick on his puckered brow. Surely there could 
not be on the face of the earth a man so weak, so guilty, 
so pusillanimous as his uncle, he, one of the chief rulers 
of the world, in whose stewardship the fate of fair lands 
and loyal peoples had been placed. Was the immensity 
of his responsibilities only equalled, then, by the bound- 
lessness of his incapacity ? was he fit only to lie secure in 
a satin-lined shelter? Why had he been selected, pre- 
ordained to meet with the frightful exigencies of the pres- 
ent situation, he who seemed to appreciate of the throne 
naught save its soft, velvet upholstery and the immuni- 
ties it gave him ? What would become of the monarchy, 
aye, of the country itself, in such palsied hands? 

To the young man keeping vigil through the watches 
of that appalling night, the power and might and glory 
of the House of Habsburg had, since the cradle, been a 

92 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

religion, a creed, a faith. He was certainly not ambitious 
for himself, but he burned to give all the years of his life 
to the service of the monarchy created by Rudolph I. so 
many centuries ago, and which had been ever a proud 
and a noble one. 

" L'Etat, c'est moi!" would never be his maxim, but 
he was beyond measure resentful and infuriated when 
his eyes fell upon the man shivering on the bed beside 
the chair where he himself writhed with humiliation, 
and who went many steps further than that and cared 
apparently not a straw what became of the State so long 
as he, the Emperor, need sacrifice not a whit of his com- 
fort or peace in screening it from harm. What a cruel, 
senseless thing was destiny ! 

Again he glanced at the tear-flushed face upon the 
lace-bordered pillows, and as he did so he drew a long 
breath of relief, for Ferdinand at last was asleep. A 
ray from the night-lamp-fell upon the swollen features, 
showing the still trembling mouth and nervously quiver- 
ing eyelids. 

Very softly the self-appointed nurse drew the gold- 
brocaded bed-curtain between the sleeper and the faint, 
rosy light, and was on the point of retreating on tip- 
toe from the room, when a small side door noiselessly 
unclosed and his mother entered. She was very pale, 
and there was a suggestion of a tremor about her firm 
lips. She went a step nearer to him, the folds of her 
loose gown of soft, white wool trailing noiselessly on the 
thick carpet. 

"Come!" she whispered. Her imperious manner was 
a little less so than usual, perchance there was a tiny 
suspicion of tremor in her lowered voice, too. He obeyed 
eagerly, and followed her through the dimly lighted 
passages to her own apartments, where shaded lamps 
and great baskets of mountain-flowers, placed there by 

93 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

her orders for she, too, in her cold, strange, unemotional 
way, loved all the blossoms that bloom, and was seldom 
without some fragrant cluster or bouquet about her 
relieved the severity of the tapestried walls and stiff fur- 
niture of carved ebony and palisander. She signed to 
him to sit down, and with the caressing grace she used 
with him alone, and that but rarely, she tilted his face 
upward and looked into his eyes; but much of the im- 
potent rage which had racked him during the past hours 
still lingered in their blue depths, and he rose abruptly, 
as if dreading her scrutinizing gaze. 

The Archduchess understood very well the strife which 
went on in his soul, the impulse for expression which 
could scarcely be resisted, and which would, if yielded 
to, lay his innermost feelings bare to her, and also the 
iron restraint he was endeavoring to keep upon himself 
touched a certain chord in her mind, a certain pulse in 
her heart, as nothing else could have done. She mo- 
tioned him back to his chair. 

"Franz, hear me a moment," she said, in a low tone, 
through which there ran an unwonted thrill of passionate 
tenderness. "You have long known that the Crown of 
the Habsburgs is to be yours; lately you have been in 
a position to judge how ill your uncle can cope with his 
almost insurmountable difficulties, and although you 
have concealed it well, yet I have noticed how im- 
measurable is your scorn for his weakness!" For a fleet- 
ing instant a gleam of admiration passed into her eyes. 
" You are now a man in the full acceptance of the word," 
she continued, pride vibrating in her every accent, "and 
I will force your uncle to abdicate in your favor, to re- 
linquish into your hands the reins of government he is 
incapable of wielding; for you, and you alone, can save 
Austria!" 

As she spoke, a vivid, palpitating, intoxicating hope 

94 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

slowly dawned in the boy's eyes. He foresaw in a flash 
all the loss of freedom, of " j&ie de vivre," which would 
be entailed on him by the assumption of the weighty 
Dual Crown; he realized that as his uncle's successor his 
future would be neither peaceful nor easy; but the hot, 
hope-inspiring blood of youth was surging madly in his 
veins and rendered him willing to set no limits to the 
sacrifices which his Imperial duties would exact from 
him. He loathed the veulerie of the times, and longed 
for the means to prove that the old, fearless, high-hand- 
ed, single-hearted, loyal, and pure devotion to duty, 
which sees in the whole teeming universe but one task 
to accomplish and but one straight and worthy way of 
accomplishing it, lived still in the breast of at least one 
monarch. 

The evanescent breath of his noble purpose passed 
like the cool breeze of an April morn, sweet with the 
scent of meadow blossoms, across the stormy, passion- 
heated atmosphere of the room, and seemed to influence 
the Archduchess's meditations, for her next sentence 
was colored by his thoughts more than by her own, as if 
she had listened to his silence. 

"Yes," she said, gently, "you will be a great Emper- 
or, my son. You will show the world what a monarch 
can be, and what infinite good he can work for his peo- 
ple, but" and here she hesitated a little "in order to 
achieve this you must not throw down your heart like 
a naked, trembling, panting thing, to be played with 
and trampled upon by that very world. You are just 
now under the influence of a great exaltation and ready 
to give freely all your future, to fling away all personal 
interest for the honor and preservation of your House, 
and to ask nothing more of earth and heaven than to 
fully and brilliantly accomplish this heavy task. That 
vision of what may be dazzles you as the mirage of a 

95 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

green oasis blinds the desert pilgrim, but I, with chillier 
prescience, can, alas, foresee the weariness behind the 
charm, and the heaviness of the yoke you are about 
to assume." 

This momentary compassion, this apparent desire to 
draw him back on the very brink of resolve, was, per- 
chance, the cleverest thing which that extraordinarily 
clever woman had ever done. To demurely point out 
to the enthusiastic, excited boy, difficulties and obstacles, 
was, in his present mood, nothing short of a challenge, 
an open hint, a doubt as to his steadfastness and power 
of renunciation, a doubt, she realized perfectly well, that 
he would not endure, a challenge he would unhesitatingly 
accept. 

He sprang to his feet, his face colorless, his mouth set, 
and caught her wrist in his cold fingers. 

"There is no need," he said, in a low, concentrated 
voice, "to be afraid for me. You say that His Majesty 
is willing to abdicate in my favor; let him do so, I am 
ready to relieve him of his charge now, at once, and to 
assume all the penalties that go with it!" 

A faint, almost imperceptible smile of triumph trem- 
bled on the lips of the able king-maker at his side, but he 
did not notice it, for he was in that state of mental ten- 
sion where elusive smiles and delicate diplomacy pass 
unrecognized. His mother had stung and humiliated 
him profoundly, but he did not know that she had played 
him as a good angler plays a trout. 

He had little vanity, but still he knew himself to be 
one of those who can carry through a resolve, whatever 
it is, to the very end without wincing; he knew, also, 
that he was no mere child to be treated with pitying 
indulgence and warned of every pitfall. This, too, com- 
ing from the only living being who had a real knowledge 
of him, made his white cheeks suddenly flame with 

96 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

notification, and cast a shadow of perplexity upon his 
eyes. Had he but been able to see clearly, he would 
have perceived that his mother was in an absolute 
ecstasy of pride and delight, surely in itself a startling 
thing in so cold and self -controlled a woman. 

She was intolerant of illusions as a rule, but her son's 
present illusive mood served her purpose admirably, 
and, moreover, she, perchance, remembered the old 
saying which states that " les illusions sont des zeros, 
mais c'est avec les zeros qti'on fait les beaux chiffres!" 
But now, almost in the moment of her triumph, a keen, 
unexpected sense of regret arose in her strange, indeed, 
in one who having put a hand to the plough never looked 
backward. Nevertheless, her indescribable air of indif- 
ference and disdain suddenly disappeared, and with a 
gentle, caressing movement she drew him towards her, 
actuated by this sudden weakness, this sudden yearning 
and wistful desire that all she had done to secure him the 
throne had been left unaccomplished, that her boy could 
still remain all her own, and the kiss she gave him was 
that of a mere loving, anxious mother. "My own dar- 
ling!" she murmured. 

The words escaped her unawares, and when they were 
uttered she longed to recall them. This was not the 
time for demonstrative affection, least of all from a 
woman such as she; and, straightening herself to her 
full height and casting off her softer mood with a little 
shake of the shoulders, habitual to her when she had, 
as she called it, "caught herself napping," she resumed 
her explanation, as had this little tender interlude been 
a trifle beneath notice : 

"As I have just told you, I long since approached your 

uncle on the subject of his abdication; to be exact, I 

spoke to him very decidedly about the matter last May, 

when he was still under the impression produced by the 

97 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

March riots, and he promised me then" she halted im- 
perceptibly "to make this sacrifice for the sake of the 
country's safety. Since that time I have continually 
held this promise before his eyes, and the events of the 
last few days will undoubtedly lead him to fulfil it now." 

"Did he consider it in the light of a sacrifice?" Arch- 
duke Franz said, quietly, and without a hint of sarcasm. 

The Archduchess's eyes opened a little wider, but her 
answer to this inconvenient question was delivered in a 
perfectly calm and secure tone. 

"Oh, you see, no man desires to suffer more keenly 
than is absolutely necessary, your uncle Ferdinand least 
of all, and there is no doubt that he has debated the 
amount of pain to be avoided or endured that hangs in 
the balance of his decision against or for an abdication ; 
but, taking it all in all, I think that the result of his in- 
ward debates is a foregone conclusion." 

The young Archduke's powers of self-restraint must 
just then have amazed even the mother who had instilled 
them into him. His eyes were fixed steadily upon her, 
his lips were slightly parted, and his attitude indicated 
careful attention, but, save for the fact that a few tiny 
beads of moisture still glistened on his forehead, he 
gave no sign of agitation or even of unusual interest in 
what she said. And yet he was being called upon not 
only to take that active part which he had dreamed 
of and longed for, but actually to assume full control 
of affairs, and to shoulder responsibilities a great deal 
heavier than those which had staggered and unseated 
the great Metternich himself! But after the first flush 
of surprise, called forth by news he had never even sus- 
pected and for which he was totally unprepared, he be- 
trayed neither qualms nor enthusiasms. This, indeed, 
was a man! 

Youth has a cunning magic peculiar and enviable 

98 




FRANCIS-JOSKPH IN 1848 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

which can be replaced by nothing else in the world, for it 
grants its possessor a quick and kaleidoscopic adapta- 
bility which makes everything easy in comparison to the 
inalterable habitude of maturer age. Already, in the in- 
stinctive throwing back of the shoulders and holding up 
of the finely shaped head, this youth, who but a few short 
minutes before had been a mere unit more gifted than 
the rest, it is true in a numerous Imperial family, a boy 
exasperated by circumstances, smarting beneath the 
constraint put upon him by the timorous chief of both 
his House and his country, already bore himself like a 
sovereign of twice his years and a hundred times his 
experience. There was no boastfulness in his attitude, 
not a trace of pose or of affectation in this curious and 
immediate outward assumption of responsibility and 
care ; evidently emanating from the fulness of the strong- 
ly beating young heart, the swiftly working brain, eager 
to go at once on duty and to direct the rescue of Crown 
and Fatherland. 

Archduchess Sophia sat still as a statue, her eyes fixed 
upon him; then she laughed a soft, victorious laugh. 

"Speaking in all moderation," she declared, "I think 
that I may rely wholly upon you to be what I have al- 
ways prayed you should be a great ruler." 

He looked at her gravely, then smiled and said, very 
slowly, with an effect supremely impersonal, "I may at 
least promise you that I will do the uttermost in my 
power to revive and maintain the Habsburg traditions." 

The Archduchess had slipped an emerald ring from 
her finger, and was twirling it round in the palm of her 
hand. 

"We have had tawdry imitations on the throne, which 
were as different from the old Habsburgs as pinchbeck is 
from gold," she mused aloud, glancing obliquely at him, 
"but you are genuine, Franz; thank God for that! since 

99 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

your occasion has come at last, and unseen hands are 
pushing you towards a glorious destiny." 

He did not speak, he did not look at her, but he caught 
his breath audibly, a long, tremulous breath ! 

Suddenly the Archduchess's pale, grave face leaped 
into light and color, her eyes blazed, and moved seem- 
ingly by an inexplicable impulse for the silence had 
apparently remained quite unbroken save by that low, 
tremulous sigh she rose swiftly, ran lightly across the 
room, and, tearing aside the heavy tapestry, bared to 
view the dark, narrow opening of a sliding door in the 
wall, and standing within it the cowering figure of no 
less a personage than Empress Maria-Anna herself. 

This was a serious discovery, a terribly embarrassing 
one at any rate, and Archduke Franz fell back against 
the tapestried wall with an exclamation of supreme as- 
tonishment. Not so Archduchess Sophia, who possessed 
one of those contradictory natures which never take a 
situation as one would expect it to be taken, and who, 
instead of exploiting the dramatic possibilities of the 
present one at the expense of the enemy, said, with the 
utmost calmness : "Ah, I thought I heard a rat. Pardon 
me, my dear, for this unflattering mistake. Pray come 
in and form one of our little council." 

Maria-Anna glanced at her terrible sister-in-law with 
reproachful, tragic eyes, and would have fled had not the 
Archduchess prevented this by grasping her hand and 
leading her gently but inexorably to a chair by the now 
almost extinguished fire. 

Though nominally mistress of all the Imperial palaces 
of Austro-Hungary, and supposed by the ignorant to lead 
her weak, vacillating husband by a silken thread, Em- 
press Maria-Anna held both housewifely and wifely reins 
with a slack hand, and under her management matters 
had gone hopelessly to the bad in her domain. She had 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

nothing in common with the brave, resolute, self-reliant 
Sophia, of whom she stood in dumb, nameless awe. In- 
deed, the latter had once or twice spoken such blightingly 
plain truths to Ferdinand's self-indulgent, indolent con- 
sort, and presented her with such jagged and uncom- 
fortable "pieces of her mind," that she had been thrown 
into violent hysterics, and had subsequently implored 
her lord to send " diese Sophia" about her business, and 
far away from the Hofburg or Schonbrunn. But this 
was easier said than done, and he knew far too well what 
manner of an enemy Sophia could become on provoca- 
tion to even attempt carrying out his wife's tearful wishes. 

So the Empress always avoided her autocratic sister- 
in-law most scrupulously ; and when absolutely forced to 
communicate with her upon private matters, invariably 
did so through the priestly intervention of her father- 
confessor, a shrewd and sagacious man, who, she con- 
sidered, was far more able to cope with her than she her- 
self was. 

Now, however, she was face to face with the being she 
feared most in the world, and under what circumstances! 
What could the masterful and unforgiving Archduchess 
mean to do with her ? What dire punishment lurked be- 
hind that pretence of welcome, that delicately scornful 
smile, that eye that had " marked her coming, and looked 
brighter when she came," in spite of the manner of that 
appearance ? 

The calm of the dim, sweet-scented old chamber seem- 
ed surcharged with menace. Shivering with cold and 
fright, the wretched Empress bent over the dying embers, 
feigning to warm her shaking fingers at flames "shin- 
ing solely by their absence," as the French put it, while 
the amazed Archduke stood immovable, looking down 
at the carpet. Archduchess Sophia alone preserved her 
equanimity as absolutely as if her Imperial sister-in-law 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

had merely dropped in for a cheery morning visit, instead 
of having been thus caught eavesdropping under pecul- 
iarly suspicious and inconvenient circumstances. 

Sophia sank into a chair facing her, leaned back with 
careless grace on some cushions, and, gazing mockingly 
at her, asked, serenely, "Well, now, tell me, my dear, 
quite frankly, what do you think of our little project?" 

Maria-Anna shrank into the utmost corner of her seat, 
and her frightened, imploring eyes began to dilate with 
abject terror before her arch-enemy's unexpected and tan- 
talizing gentleness, a sweetness far more terrible to those 
who knew Sophia well than any of her most violent out- 
bursts would have been. 

"Well!" repeated the latter, playing with the tassel of 
a cushion, her eyes glowing maliciously. 

A groan escaped the Empress's white lips. 

"Reflect for a moment, if you have not as yet had 
time to co-ordinate your ideas," continued the merciless 
Archduchess, assuming a tone wholly argumentative. 
"The day is young yet, for, lazier than we, the sun still 
slumbers." 

Maria- Anna tried to speak, but in vain; her tongue 
was cleaving to the roof of her mouth, and with an en- 
couraging smile her tormentor said, in a more and 
more ominously coaxing manner, " I see ! No doubt you 
would prefer to speak to me alone. Why did not you 
say so at once?" Then, turning to the worried and puz- 
zled Archduke, she added, softly, "Will you go and 
wait for me in my bedroom, Franz? I will be with 
you directly." 

He glanced at his mother a little wistfully, as if he did 
not quite understand or like this move, but he knew her 
too well to resist, and, bowing low before the Empress, 
who looked at this moment anything but Imperial or 
imposing, he went without a word. 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

sOutside both rain and wind were still raging, and, al- 
though it was now past three o'clock, there was not even 
a hint of dawn to be seen through the heavy clouds 
shouldering each other above the horizon, and the air 
was so raw that when the Archduchess threw open a 
window for an instant, to clear the heavy atmosphere of 
the room, the tempest burst in with a roar like that of 
unchained wild beasts, and it took all her strength to 
close it again. 

She herself confessed when, long afterwards, she re- 
lated the scene, having been glad of this short buffet 
with an insensate force, for at that moment all that 
was most cruel, most intolerant, most tyrannical in her 
was aroused, and she was in the humor to hurt some- 
thing; the first thing that came within the grasp of 
her hand. Of a truth, the bantering, mocking mood, 
which she had constrained herself to adopt before her 
son, was at an end now, and when she turned from the 
window, after her victorious encounter with the elements, 
her eyes were full of scorn and of command as she looked 
haughtily at the cringing figure still huddled over the al- 
most cold cinders. 

"What possessed you to spy upon me?" she said, con- 
temptuously, advancing a step or two. 

"I did not come to spy upon you," murmured the 
wretched, demoralized Empress. 

"No, your presence behind this secret door, or rather 
within it, for you knew of it which is more than I did 
and you had, no doubt, to work some complicated piece 
of machinery in order to open it, was quite fortuitous; 
you will have me believe, no doubt, that you were merely 
promenading inside the wall long after three in the 
morning, and that quite by chance bah! You are but 
a poor liar, after all." 

Before that remorseless scrutiny, those cold, level 

103 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

tones, that cut like the lashes of a knout, Maria-Anna 
was paralyzed. She colored, grew pale again, hesitated, 
tried to speak, failed, and became absolutely unable to 
keep down the tremor which shook her like an ague. 
The physical fear which Sophia's anger always inspired 
in her, now overwhelmed her with tenfold intensity, 
and assuredly a much more courageous person than she 
might well have shrunk from the prospect of being 
shut up with this dangerously infuriated woman, who 
could neither be deceived nor softened, and who was 
known to have a hand of iron when offended or in- 
jured swift to punish and slow to relent. 

In the momentary silence which followed, Archduchess 
Sophia, holding her victim with her eye the while, re- 
viewed the situation with swift, concerted thoughts, and 
to herself admitted defeat. Of ultimate success she 
did not doubt, but she knew that any information pos- 
sessed by the Empress was speedily transmitted to quar- 
ters where sufficient power resided to delay the execution 
of her schemes. Had the unbidden participant in her 
counsels been any other person, she would have found 
means to insure silence, but though confident that the 
power she could exert over the weak, frightened woman 
before her was equal to extracting any promise, she com- 
prehended too well the stuff of which Maria-Anna was 
made to expect that she would adhere to her word. A 
promise of secrecy she, nevertheless, decided to obtain, 
since the fact of its being subsequently broken would 
place no despicable weapon in her hands, and, further- 
more, she resolved to make her defeat on this occasion 
so costly to her antagonist as to give her no opportunity 
for the present to taste the sweets of her temporary 
success. 

"Now, my dear," she said, at length, "the rupture of 
our entente cordiale" here she laughed her little, low, 

104 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

rnusical, mocking laugh "lies in your own choice; keep 
secret what you have heard here to-night, even from 
your father-confessor; refrain from meddling with af- 
fairs that you cannot possibly comprehend, and I will, 
on my side, remain neutral where you are concerned. 
On the other hand, say but one word of all this to a 
living soul, and you will indeed have reason to regret it." 

The words were pronounced almost lightly sneeringly, 
slightingly, and without especial emphasis and accentu- 
ation, more like a warning to a timid child than a men- 
ace to a kindred power, and their seeming moderation, 
compared to the withering anger of a few moments be- 
fore, encouraged Maria-Anna to break at last her trem- 
ulous silence. 

"For pity's sake, Sophia, do not talk to me as if 
I were a common spy. I mean no harm to you or 
to Franz; but cannot you see that what you propose 
would cover us with eternal shame and reproach in the 
eyes of all Europe ? Cannot you relent towards us ? Will 
nothing but our disgrace satisfy you?" she concluded, 
hurriedly, noticing a peculiar smile which she had seen 
before on Sophia's lips, and which she dreaded like a 
blow. 

"You are distressing yourself most needlessly," the 
Archduchess replied, as quietly as ever. "You cannot 
evade me nor enlist my sympathies, so it is quite useless 
to try. You are aware that I am not overforbearing, 
and that I will not tamely submit to treachery, or sit a 
silent witness to perfidious meddlings ; therefore, be ad- 
vised and accept my terms, such as they are, before I re- 
consider them, and offer harsher and juster ones." 

The Empress was at the same time emboldened and 
puzzled by the restraint in tone and manner of her 
dreaded foe. "May may not your plans entail some 
some danger? 'Who has sown the wind shall reap 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

the whirlwind,' " she ventured, with timid and stupid 
sententiousness. 

Archduchess Sophia let her eyes rest on her sister-in- 
law with an expression of half -contemptuous pity, half 
derision, which might have given her plentiful food for 
reflection had she been a woman who ever reflected. 

"You possess all the antique virtues, even a praise- 
worthy facility in Biblical quotation," she said, with 
suave sarcasm. "Let us hope that you number among 
them that of loyalty to a promise, for assuredly you will 
not leave this room until you have promised to keep 
silent about this night's performance a sorry one, as far 
as you are concerned, certainly, and of which you can 
scarcely be proud. An Empress might at least employ 
an agent to do such work, and not stoop to it herself!" 

"All is fair in love and war. I I I was only fighting 
my own battle, Sophia." 

Into the face of the overbearing Archduchess came a 
gleam of malicious amusement, crossed with surprise, at 
this unheard-of pertinacity. 

" I beg your pardon, but you should really make a con- 
scientious effort to be a little less foolhardy. It is not 
your usual attitude, and you know what our French 
cousins say: ' Ne for fez pas votre talent; vous ne feriez 
rien avec grd.ce. ' ' 

"I cannot promise what you ask. Why should I? 
Promises are sacred," contended poor Maria- Anna, "and 
you know as well as I do that it would be a sin for me to 
hold anything back from my father-confessor." 

"Ah, nous y voila done!" Sophia exclaimed. "Has 
anybody ever heard anything that sounded so bewilder- 
ingly devoid of reason? Not content with confessing 
your own sins, you deem it your duty to reveal those 
which, in your admirable purity of motive, you accord to 
your neighbors. I sincerely pity your confessor! But, 

1 06 



byefore you go any further, would it not be better to cal- 
culate what you yourself are likely to lose by such un- 
paralleled loyalty to Holy Mother Church? For, when 
you have done this, you will very likely thank me for 
claiming and enforcing your silence!" 

Maria-Anna gazed distressedly into space, as if ap- 
pealing to invisible arbiters. 

"This is too, too cruel!" she moaned. "Am I child 
without discretion that I should be treated so?" 

"Oh, you are very far from being a child, as anybody 
looking at you in this crude morning light would enthu- 
siastically vouch," retorted the other, unable for once to 
refrain from a wholly feminine repartee, which made the 
Empress wince, for vanity formed a large part of her 
pampered, flattery -loving soul. "And now," continued 
the imperturbable Archduchess, more sternly, "there 
must be no more talk of wanting or not wanting to do as 
you are told. You shall do what I wish, and that at 
once!" 

"This is outrageous!" exclaimed the other, goaded to 
renewed pertinacity. "How long do you expect me to 
keep silent, and why should you take it for granted that 
I am inclined to connive at your plots?" 

"I see that I have been altogether too patient with 
you, my dear sister, but" Sophia considered a moment 
"but, let me see I shall be very moderate, if you will 
be so good as to refrain from future impertinences 
three months will do. After three months I will allow 
you to give full play to your diligent tongue. During 
those three months, however, you must not, absolutely 
must not, breathe a word to anybody of our little pro- 
ject!" 

"Three months! Twelve weeks!" almost screamed 
Maria-Anna. 

"Ninety days, to put it commercially," commented 

107 



Sophia, looking at the coffered ceiling with meditative 
eyes. 

The Empress held up her hands in vehement protest, 
and, in a high, agitated, trembling voice that belied the 
astonishing energy of her words, cried: 

" You can do what you please, Sophia, but I will prom- 
ise you nothing! I have feared you greatly, it is true, 
but I do not fear you any longer, whatever you may 
choose to do to me!" 

Archduchess Sophia gazed at her with undisguised 
amusement. She knew, without the possibility of a mis- 
take, that this was but a momentary flash of revolt, and 
that Maria- Anna, no more than Ferdinand, would dare to 
resist her to the end, and this little flash of self-assertion 
on her prisoner's part seemed very droll to her. 

"Poor Franz, I hope he fell asleep in my room!" she 
murmured, " puisque c'est tout h recommencer. I am 
not very tolerant of defeat," she continued, louder, 
"although I may have to swallow it at some future 
time, but that time is not yet. I invariably contend 
that what one wishes to accomplish can be compassed 
sooner or later; with me it will be sooner, that is all. 
Peste ! ma chbre, a crusade against me embraced by you 
and your party is visionary indeed! I had hoped better 
and especially far wiser things from you." She smiled, 
and looked over to the rain-lashed windows. "The gods 
have showered upon you their fairy gifts, and they will 
be too merciful to those who look upon you as one of the 
greatest acquisitions the Habsburgs ever made to let 
you attempt resisting me unhindered." 

The Empress had braced herself to withstand the fit of 
rage which she felt certain Sophia would treat her to 
when she found herself openly defied; but, surprised by 
the continuance of this suave, calm insolence, crushed by 
her antagonist's unruffled air of mastery, and, above all, 

108 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ttfo frightened and humiliated to control her nerves, she 
sank back upon the cushions of her chair and burst into 
tears. 

Archduchess Sophia rose and stood over her with a 
face that had the immutability of a mask of stone. She 
had played with her mouse long enough. Now she would 
put an end to this wearisome scene, and when she spoke 
it was with a bitter fierceness, before which the sobs of 
the ignominiously detected listener died into silence. 

"I wish no more words between us. You know how 
basely you have acted. All your life has been one long 
eavesdropping; this last and supremely disgraceful deed 
committed by you, an Empress, has but set the seal upon 
your shame, in my eyes at least. One can pardon and 
understand sin, even crime, but not baseness. A daugh- 
ter of kings should at least be loyal and truthful and 
brave. You are none of these things, and your attempt 
at resistance just now was a mere piece of comedy. I 
know you; you are a fit mate for the miserable Roi 
faineant you married, and it is because I do know you 
botfi so well that I mean to wrench the crown from you, 
who have sunk so despicably low. Were your honor or 
Ferdinand's honor called into question, I would, of course, 
defend it as I would that of any of the Habsburgs 
not for your sakes, but merely for my own, since from my 
heart I despise you both. And now I have trifled much 
too long with you. Promise me silence, for if you still 
refuse you will rue the very day you were born!" 

Huddled in her chair, exhausted, hysterical, and in- 
capable of further resistance, Maria-Anna faintly mur- 
mured : 

"I promise." 

"Do you mean that?" 

"Yes." 

" It is understood that by this promise you engage not 

109 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

to communicate what you have heard to-night to any 
one, by writing or otherwise, and also that you will not 
act upon your information, is it not?" 

"Yes." 

"Ah, I am glad that we have come to an understand- 
ing. Will you permit me to assist you to the door? It 
is day after a fashion and you must be tired." 

The Empress rose limply. Dazed by the exhausting 
scene she had just gone through, she obeyed mechani- 
cally, and suffered herself to be conducted across the 
apartment. Slowly she passed down the corridor, hard- 
ly knowing whither she went, for all the pride and vanity 
of her narrow soul had been crushed out for the moment, 
and the greatest humiliation she had ever known poured 
into their empty places. 



CHAPTER IV 

Two months later, on December zd, 1848, the old 
citadel of Olmiitz looked more grim and forbidding 
than usual under a leaden sky of uniform and dismal 
grayness, low and disconsolate and threatening. Snow 
lay thickly on the ground and weighed down the branches 
of the pines all over the country, and now and again a 
bough snapped under its burden with a sharp, tearing 
sound, followed by the clear, steely tinkle of falling icicles. 

The cutting north wind, blowing like a death -deal- 
ing blast, was full of whirling flakes, like feather-tips, 
waltzing in maddened circles, freezing as they fell, and 
adding to the heaped - up whiteness hiding the world 
from sight. As the morning wore on the whole lower- 
ing heaven seemed to open, so dense a tourmente poured 
upon the small town where the Court had taken refuge. 
A thick, woolly, impenetrable gloom enshrouded every- 
thing like a suffocating cloak, and the weather grew 
wilder and wilder under the cruelty of that black frost, 
the chill of that desolate winter. 

Above the fortress, above the wildly flapping folds of 
the Habsburg standard, a flight of huge, dark birds, their 
sable wings monotonously sweeping the sombre sky, kept 
circling round and round, each circle narrowing and 
widening again regularly, while their dismal croaking 
made itself heard above even the roar of the wind. 

Those who caught sight of them crossed themselves 
and muttered superstitiously about "the curse of the 
Habsburgs," and about the dread legend of the ravens, 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

supposed to betoken misfortune by their mere presence 
to all members of the Imperial family. 

Many years later those dusky birds of ill-omen hov- 
ered with sinister croakings above the proud heads 
of Archduchess Charlotte and of Archduke Ferdinand- 
Maximilian, in the fragrant gardens of Miramar during 
their last walk there together before starting upon their 
ill-starred journey to far-off Mexico ; one of the gloomy 
band alighting with a swoop on the very train of the 
new-made Empress. 

Still later they accompanied the travelling-carriage of 
Archduchess Maria-Christina, leaving Vienna to join her 
Royal fianc at Madrid, where she ultimately suffered all 
that a woman can suffer, and but five short years ago the 
same black -plumed messengers flew to bring her death- 
warrant to that peerless creature, Empress Elizabeth, 
upon a magnificent blue-and-gold, green-and-silver au- 
tumnal afternoon, as she sat on the moss-grown rocks of 
the Swiss mountains above Territet, gazing at the lake, 
the woods, the glaciers, and the far-distant haze of the 
mellow horizon. Similar presage their swift wings bore 
to poor Archduchess Marie-Louise journeying from her 
dear native land to wed Napoleon; to Emperor Joseph, 
to lovely Queen Marie- Antoinette , whom they accom- 
panied to the very steps of the scaffold, and to many, 
many others belonging to that glorious but sorely afflict- 
ed House of Habsburg. 

And yet few know the origin of this curse, or rather 
the primary cause of the ravens' supposed blighting in- 
fluence upon all the descendants of Rudolph, first of the 
name, for the legend has never been printed as yet, save 
perchance in some long-forgotten, black-letter record, 
which none who live now have so much as heard of, and 
it is handed down orally in the inner family circle of 
those whom alone it concerns. 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Thus it runs: Nearly a thousand years ago there 
lived, near the spot where the river Aar joins the Rhine, 
a bold and powerful lord, who, by his mighty courage, 
vanquished all his foes; a tall and handsome man, very 
fair and of splendid bearing and with a physiognomy 
that showed both the habit and the power of command. 
He was satiated to weariness with public homage, and, 
though he ever acknowledged it with proud and court- 
ly grace, yet his happiest moments were those which he 
spent among the towering peaks of the mountains, or 
within the deep gloom of his forest -lands, hunting the 
bear, the wolf, or the red deer from their silent, mysteri- 
ous haunts: for he was an ardent disciple of Nimrod, and 
when he gave the coup de grdce to some fierce animal 
which he had conquered by brute force, his blue eyes 
darkened to steel-like brilliance with an instantaneous 
and unconquerable joy which had won him the sobriquet 
of Der Habicht Graf (The Vulture Count). 

Such was Gontran-le-Riche, Count of Altenbourg, a 
man to be both feared and admired, swift and fierce in 
passion, bitter and implacable in hate, keen to avenge 
and slow to forgive, and yet with a warm, generous 
heart beating under his glittering surcoat of steel, 
and a sense of justice and of fair-play rare indeed and 
superb to behold in one so nearly omnipotent as he. 
Even towards his favorite antagonists, the bear and wolf, 
during the short, bleak winter, or the long, bright sum- 
mer days when he pursued the wild swan, the blue heron, 
or the golden eagle through the tall, rough meadow-grass 
or over the precipitous rocks of the high summits, he 
displayed those qualities which are generally not found 
in men who live such free, headstrong, barbaric lives as 
he did, who know no law, no rule, and no constraint but 
their own. 

One day Gontran-le-Riche was hunting in a maze of 
8 113 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

dense, still woods and fir-clad heights, where headlong 
rivers thundered through rocky gorges, and madly rush- 
ing torrents foamed in the green gloom between the vast 
trunks of veteran pines, when he came upon a rocky 
summit, shaped like a stronghold built by the hands of 
Titans, and as lonely as any falcon's nest hung amid lofty 
branches. These great, voiceless powers of beauty and 
loneliness drew Count von Altenbourg irresistibly, and, 
ascending to the highest point, he sat himself down on a 
bowlder and gazed with enraptured eyes at the admi- 
rable, wild panorama of wood and mountain unfolded 
before him. And as he sat he saw, descending towards 
him from the clouds, great dark birds, their immense 
wings circling and sweeping the air with a rustle as of 
tearing silks. Nearer and nearer and nearer they came, 
till they were poised immediately above his head, and 
remained almost motionless in a huge, sombre ring, bal- 
ancing themselves upon outstretched pinions, so that he 
could see plainly their fierce, golden eyes bent upon him, 
their murderous claws drawn up against their silver- 
flecked breasts, their sharply curved beaks opened men- 
acingly, and he felt that in another moment they would 
swoop down upon him,who had so boldly intruded upon 
their domain, and batter him to death with blows from 
their pitiless wings and rending talons. 

Countless were the soaring birds; the whole heavens 
seemed lined by that angrily ruffled tribe assembled 
from every quarter, and harsh, threatening noises 
came ever increasingly from the billowy cloud of gleam- 
ing feathers. Nor was their onslaught a slight peril, 
even for so strong a man as Count Gontran, who, al- 
though he had always started honestly and given its 
fair chance of escape to every woodland quarry, now 
was in deadly risk* of finding no such mercy from this 
overwhelming force. 

114 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

*/His followers were scattered in the wood below him, 
quite out of reach of his call, and he was alone to fight 
against impossible odds. The day was still and cloudy 
true sportsman's weather with no gleam of sun to 
shine in the hunter's eyes, but in this universal gray- 
ness the menace of the vulture horde seemed still more 
terrible and deadlier of intent. There were few braver 
men living than he, but he yet realized clearly that for 
all he knew to the contrary his hour had come, and that 
he, the Habicht Graf, was like to be killed by the very 
birds whose name he bore. He rose to his full height, 
however, with undiminished courage, his eyes sparkling 
with dangerous fire, and on his face a look of utter con- 
tempt for his pressing danger. Thus he steadfastly pre- 
pared to meet his foes, for men must die, and little does 
it matter what is the manner of their death so long as 
they die nobly and without flinching, as men should. 

Then, at that moment of dire peril, a wonderful thing 
came to pass, and a strange, for with the swiftness of sum- 
mer lightning a feathered cloud, far denser, far blacker 
than that formed by the vultures, overspread the space 
between the Count's head and his imminent assailants, 
darkening still further the light of the gray day, and 
intercepting the now down-swooping attack of the great 
birds of prey. No man wrestling through the tumult of 
battle to reach what he loves best, can fight a more bitter 
conflict with the death that menaces him on every side 
than that flight of ravens, coming none could know 
whence, which, with no human love, no human pity as 
their incentive, yet cast themselves upon that murder- 
ous army of vultures and forced them back with a hoarse, 
hollow roar of wide-flung throats and clashing beaks, like 
the sound of a tempest, and drove them swiftly across the 
darkening skies like a cloud-rack before the wind. The 
Count could not repress a shout of triumph and of en- 

"5 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

couragement to the winged legions of his defenders, but 
even as he gazed victors and vanquished were gone, and 
only some stragglers still hurled themselves on one an- 
other, their smothered cries accentuating the great si- 
lence that was again falling upon the green woods. Sud- 
denly the sun broke red through the gray shroud of mist, 
the pine boughs below Gontran - le - Riche were bathed 
in light, and his followers, rushing through them, fell at 
his feet in the joy of having found him after a desperate 
search, guided only by the strange turmoil of the battle 
raging above the impenetrable dome of the trees, through 
which they had labored so long in vain. 

Count Gontran, in commemoration of the miracle 
which had saved him, built himself a watch-tower on the 
top of the rock which nature had shaped so closely to 
resemble one, and called it the "Habichtsburg," which 
from corruption became "Habsburg," so he really was 
the founder of the Habsburg name, he himself being far 
better known towards the end of his life by the name of 
Count of Habsburg than by that of Count von Alten- 
bourg. His knightly pennon also from the day of his 
strange rescue bore a raven sable on a field or, and since 
the birds were regarded by him as friends to whom he 
owed a deep debt, food in plenty was always placed, 
summer and winter alike, on the rocky base of the 
tower, so that they greatly prospered and increased, 
building their strong nests all through the woods for 
miles around. 

When, nearly a hundred years after the death of this 
great and noble lord, Arch Abbot Werner and his 
brother, the Chevalier Radbot, came into possession of 
the solitary tower built by Gontran-le-Riche, Count von 
Altenbourg - Habsburg, and added to it, until Schloss 
Habsburg raised its proud turrets and battlements above 
the green billows of the splendid forest murmuring and 

116 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

rustling at its feet; the " Habichtsburg " ravens protest- 
ed against the desecration of their beloved protector's 
favorite retreat with such violence, and in such numbers, 
that a destructive war upon them was promptly decreed. 
The birds did not readily forsake their time-honored 
haunt, however, for it is to Rudolph von Habsburg, first 
Emperor of his House, fully two hundred years later still, 
that the final extermination of the raven colony around 
the castle is attributed. Hence the legend to the effect 
that the birds, disgusted and infuriated by this piece of 
unparalleled ingratitude, turned their hatred from cen- 
tury to century upon all the descendants of Emperor Ru- 
dolph, and that to this very day they take cruel delight in 
presaging misfortune to all those bearing that ancient 
and glorious name.* 

Inside the fortress of Olmutz, on the memorable De- 
cember day of which I speak at the beginning of this 
chapter, agitation and curiosity reigned supreme. The 
dim winter light stole through the tall, deep-embrasured 
windows of the gloomy throne-room, and made so feeble 
a contest with the shadows that a sense of unrest, born 
of that troubled time, had fallen upon a group of Impe- 
rial personages and high court officials who had been 
summoned thither. 

Together, near the wide porphyry hearth, where huge 
logs of pine and cedar burned, stood Archduke Ferdi- 
nand-Karl, Francis-Joseph's brothers Ferdinand -Max- 
imilian and Karl - Ludwig, and Archduke Ferdinand- 
d'Este. A little further were the Archduchesses Maria- 
Dorothea and Elizabeth, shivering in their gorgeous robes 
de cour as they whispered earnestly with Archduke Wil- 
helm- Joseph, who bent inquiring glances upon the two 

* The orthography of the word Habsburg is uncertain, the 
members of the Imperial family still write it with a "b," from 
Habicht (vulture). 

117 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

heroes of the hour, Prince Windischgratz and the cele- 
brated Baron Jellachich, Ban of Croatia, no longer a de- 
clared rebel, but commander - in - chief of the Imperial 
forces in Hungary, and a firm ally of Archduchess 
Sophia. 

A little over a month before these two commanders 
had appeared before rebellious Vienna with an army of 
a hundred thousand men, had defeated a relieving force 
of Hungarian insurgents under Kossuth, and after a de- 
structive bombardment had taken the city by assault 
and reduced it to submission, and it was expected that in 
a few days they would carry the banner of the Empire 
against Hungary. Excepting Prince Schwartzenberg, 
Count Griinne, Baron von Hiibner, and those already 
named, no other persons were present in the great apart- 
ment. 

The assembled company were discussing the possible 
reasons of their being so suddenly brought together, 
for, strange as it may appear, nobody, not even the 
Emperor's nearest relatives, knew the nature of the 
all-important ceremony which was immediately to take 
place. 

The ponderous, richly carved furniture, the glittering 
throne itself, looked ghostly in the almost empty hall, 
where none dared to talk above a whisper, and wherein 
the very spirit of the cruel ice and snow that wrapped 
the outer world seemed to have penetrated, so cold and 
silent was its atmosphere. 

A stray flash from the crackling fire threw into promi- 
nence here and there a delicate bit of carving, a jewelled 
tazza, a Cellini cup, or coaxed high lights from the dra- 
peries of deep-purple velvet, and the gold-brocaded por- 
tieres falling in straight folds before the many doors. 
That palace of Olmtitz was very old, spacious, magnifi- 
cent, faded, and dull. Busts of dusky, age -yellowed 

118 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

marble and of sombre bronze were barely visible in the 
semi-darkness, amid the worn brocades and the ancient 
hangings, with strange and pallid figures wrought upon 
them by hands, dead since many centuries. 

"What hornet's nest have we stepped into now?" 
queried Archduke Wilh elm- Joseph, with a sigh of im- 
patience, addressing himself to Archduchess Elizabeth. 
"Sophia has a finger in it, you may depend. She has 
always considered that all creation exists only for the 
honor of her immediate family, and refuses to admit that 
others may have some additional though no doubt minor 
objects in view. For the last few months she has had a 
preoccupied look which, in my humble opinion, bodes no 
good as to her latest machinations." 

"You are, none of you, quite just to her," replied the 
gentle Archduchess. "She possesses a keener sense of 
duty than most women, and if her views are perchance 
somewhat extreme " 

The Archduke laughed sarcastically, and, before time 
had been given for the interrupted reproof to be resumed, 
the double doors opposite the throne were flung open, 
and , preceded by the Grandmaster of the Court , Landgrave 
Egon von Furstenberg, walking backward and tapping 
his ivory wand of office upon the floor, the Emperor and 
Empress entered and passed towards the dais, followed 
by Archduke Franz-Karl, Archduchess Sophia, and last, 
but not least, by Archduke Franz himself. 

The groups in the great Thronsaal fell abruptly asunder, 
curtseying and bowing low, but furtively glancing at the 
pale face of Ferdinand, whose painfully restless eyes and 
twitching lips denoted a nervousness controlled with 
visible difficulty. The Empress at his side looked as if 
she had been recently crying, though now a sombre 
light of regret and resentment burned in her eyes, and 
her bosom quivered under the glistening jewels that dec- 

119 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

orated it. Now and again she twisted the lace hand- 
kerchief she held, and a slight tremor shaking her inter- 
mittently, made the diamonds with which her hair was 
spangled sparkle like liquid fire. 

Immediately behind her swept Archduchess Sophia, 
with her usual stately grace and proud, cold dignity. 
Her velvet dress was very plainly made, but fitted her 
magnificent figure to perfection ; on her breast shone the 
stars of many orders, and on her shapely head rested a 
diadem of marvellous uncut gems which she wore like an 
Imperial crown. Only her eyes betrayed that she was 
strung to the highest pitch, for they were alive with an 
intensity of expression wonderful to behold, as she fixed 
them on the trembling form of the Emperor and then 
upon her darling, her handsome blue-eyed boy, the child 
who so soon now was to be her sovereign. 

During the silence which followed it seemed as if all the 
fierce passions that mould humanity fluttered their un- 
quiet wings through the lofty hall, the air seemed heavy 
with portent, and a keen tingling tension of expectancy 
drew every eye upon the throne. 

The Emperor's face had turned gray as ashes; for a 
moment he strove to hide his emotion, conscious that 
there were but few in the assembly but watched him un- 
kindly. He pressed his lips together tightly, and an un- 
usual and curiously obstinate expression drew down the 
corners of his mouth, as his eyes sought for a second the 
terribly commanding orbs of Archduchess Sophia, whose 
hand closed vise-like upon the sticks of the fan which 
she held like a marshal's baton; then, suddenly, an ex- 
pression almost fierce transformed his colorless features 
into a tragic mask; authority, nay, absolute imperious- 
ness, came into his bearing and manner; he no longer 
seemed awkward, cowed, and feeble, but dignified and 
commanding, and for once in his life looked as one born 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

tO'/dominate the crowd. His whole attitude, indeed, de- 
manded attention as he rose from the throne, unfolded a 
paper he held in his hand, and began to read in a deep, 
firm, sonorous voice none had ever heard from him be- 
fore, the following declaration: 

"For very weighty reasons we have irrevocably de- 
cided to lay down our Imperial Crown in favor of our 
beloved nephew, the Most Serene Archduke Francis- 
Joseph, whom we hereby declare to be of age, our be- 
loved brother, the Most Serene Archduke Francis- 
Charles, father of our above-mentioned Most Serene 
Nephew, having irrevocably renounced his right of suc- 
cession to a throne which belongs to him by right, 
according to the fundamental laws of our family and of 
the state, in favor of his above-mentioned son, Francis- 
Joseph." 

As he pronounced the last words, more like a sovereign 
in laying down the sceptre than at any time when he 
swayed it, the intense excitement which caused this one 
supreme effort went out within him like a suddenly ex- 
tinguished lamp ; he was overtaken by a reaction visible 
to all who had been watching him with amazed surprise ; 
he shivered, bowed his head, and sat wearily down again. 
Immediately Prince Schwartzenberg arose and read, in 
tones that sounded clear and sharp upon the strained 
silence, three official documents, the declaration that 
Francis- Joseph was now of age, his father's formal re- 
nunciation to his right of succession, and the Emperor's 
formal abdication. 

As the Prince presented these papers to the Empe- 
ror and Archduke Franz-Karl for their signatures, and 
counter-signed them with his own, many glances turned 
towards Archduchess Sophia, and noted the very faint 
smile that hovered about her lips, and accentuated the 
gleam of exulting triumph in her eyes when she looked 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

towards her son, whom she crowned that day with a 
richer diadem than any of the proud old Empire, that 
of a love so intense, so profound, so devoted, that all else 
paled before it. She felt truly like one who, after long 
fasting and travail of spirit before the dim altar of a 
shrine, suddenly beholds a luminous white vision con- 
firming and rewarding his faith. She had conquered, 
and success is sweet always, but doubly so to such a 
hewer of fate as was this inexorably masterful woman, 
around whom to-day celestial ether seemed to swim and 
swirl. 

As in a dream she heard a voice delivering a farewell 
address, as in a dream saw faces pale and eyes fill with 
tears as her son knelt before the retiring Emperor for 
his embrace and blessing; but as the young sovereign 
rose to receive the formal homage and congratulations 
of the members of his House, she came swiftly forward 
and folded him in her arms with a clasp passionate and 
strong, like her own heart. 

The deed was done ! Already the heralds were on their 
way to proclaim it throughout the little town. The 
crown of the Habsburgs had changed places, and the 
poor discrowned monarch, who had donned it thirteen 
years before, now felt a strange and unaccountable 
sense of void and of bitter loss as he rose from the throne 
vacating it, as it were, for the slender youth who, with 
ready tears glistening in his eyes, was watching his pale 
features, which appeared but a shrivelled mask of re- 
serve and misery, as if the page of history which he had 
just completed had been written in a blinding light 
which had dazzled and hurt him cruelly, and the passing 
away of which now left him in an almost sightless dark- 
ness. 

The young Emperor turned his eyes from him and 
gazed out at the whirling snow, falling in ever-thickening 



flakes, afraid of the emotions into which he might be 
hurried, for in his heart he was profoundly sorry for this 
broken man, who had spent his whole life in wanting that 
which he had not, in regretting his own actions when it 
was too late to efface them, in putting the blame upon 
fate which was due to his own folly, caprice, and insta- 
bility; and who yet had always been to him both kind 
and indulgent. 

He had reasoned with himself that the relinquishing 
of what one is weary and afraid of cannot be looked upon 
in the light of a sacrifice, and yet the sight of his uncle 
dethroned and uncrowned was very painful to him, for 
he did not possess the enviable faculty of being able to 
readily dismiss from his mind the thought of another's 
unhappiness. Indeed, the subject had, during the past 
weeks, occupied his mind to an extent which surprised 
himself. And thus, after a few minutes of irresolution 
and of conflicting impulses, he once more abruptly sank 
on his knee, with the humility belonging to men of high 
mind and strong feeling, both young and old, before the 
gray-haired figure standing stoopingly at the hearth-cor- 
ner, and tears fell upon his uncle's withered hand as he 
kissed it. 

Genuinely touched, Ferdinand raised and embraced 
him, not now as before, with mere conventionality, but 
in a tender and fatherly fashion. 

"Nay, weep not for me," he said, gently. "I am 
growing old, and the thought that in my retirement I 
shall miss something of this life makes me see just now 
all things in shadow, but I will be consoled in watching 
you fulfil your duty as I wish I, myself, had done, for you 
are not one, I believe, to repudiate or neglect your obli- 
gations, and so, God bless you, my boy! and grant that 
your path be not too arduous a one." 

None, perhaps, understood the intense diffidence which 

123 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

enveloped Francis- Joseph, as a frost encloses and covers 
a lake with a sheet of armor at the beginning of a hard 
winter, from the moment when he realized the weight 
and responsibilities of the Dual-Crown ; none understood 
the bewilderment and inward agitation which made him 
pronounce the memorable "Good-bye, my youth," on 
the day of his accession, and none certainly would have 
thought how heavily the only fear which had ever touch- 
ed his dauntless and courageous temper namely, a fear 
of his own limitations, lay upon him while listening to 
his uncle's words. He was still bewildered with all that 
had taken place that morning, and, in answer, he mur- 
mured something, he knew not what, and so remained 
standing before him, unable to recover his composure, 
while the color came and went nervously on his young 
face. 

" I will try to please you and my parents," he said, at 
last, involuntarily. It was what a boy would have said, 
and he knew it, yet he could not restrain the words ! 

Empress Maria-Anna put out her left hand the one 
nearer him and gently clasped his, for she, too, was 
moved by so much humility and modesty at so proud a 
moment for him. 

"You have always pleased us all," she said, very kind- 
ly. "Do not look back and think of your uncle and my- 
self now. Cosa fatta, capo ha. What is done is done. 
We will be very happy, he and I, in Prague, and will give 
you a warm welcome, both as Emperor and as nephew, 
when you come to see us." 

Francis-Joseph looked at her with a puzzled expres- 
sion. He had always thought of his aunt as selfish, ex- 
acting, cold, and capricious; perhaps he had misjudged 
her, and he regretted that, too. So all the heart he had, 
and that was much, he put into his manner of returning 
the warm, motherly kiss she gave him. As he turned 

124 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

from her embrace he saw in his own mother's eyes a look 
which disconcerted him, not quite of derision, but cruelly 
hinting at pity for his extraordinary youthfulness and 
guilelessness ! 

Poor boy -Emperor, he was too little versed in the 
whole gamut of feminine emotions not to be perplexed 
as to the motive and meaning of that mocking gaze 
which hurt him so deeply. 

Two hours later Ferdinand and Maria- Anna set off for 
Prague. The snow had ceased falling and the landscape 
was austere and astonishingly grim in its solemn winter 
livery of black and white; but the low, gray clouds were 
slowly dissolving and being drawn away like a huge 
gauzy curtain from the chill sky, and the walls of 
Olmutz, the island-fortress planted in the middle of 
the broad, frozen surface of the river March gleamed 
palely in the intermittent rays of the dim, yellow, 
sickly sun. Above the ice-clad bosom of the stream, 
wont in the spring to roll so boisterously, peat-stained 
and foam-broidered, through its belt of marshes, now 
motionless and chained down under the iron grip of 
the frost, flocks of wild-fowl flew, with shrill cries, where, 
in the early morning, the Habsburg ravens had circled. 

The whole scene had changed, indeed, when the new 
sovereign mounted his charger to accompany his Im- 
perial predecessor so far as the railway station, galloping 
at the window of the state carriage, with its coachman, in 
full-bottomed wig and three-cornered hat, seated alone 
in his glory, and its gorgeous footmen swinging behind. 

The ranks of the good-natured and admiring crowd 
which had assembled to watch the departure opened to 
let the equipage pass by, with Hochs of delight and 
loud-shouted blessings upon "Franz der Kaiser" and 
" Ferdinand der Gtitige," who " soi-dit en passant " is to 
this day remembered throughout Austria as the softest- 

125 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

hearted monarch of them all! The gold lace on the 
brilliant uniforms of the escort shone gayly, the horses 
pranced merrily, and there could be no doubt whatever 
of the popularity of both the young and the old mon- 
arch with the excellent Moravians thronging the nar- 
row streets of Olmutz. They evidently knew naught of 
" Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi! " but wisely considered that 
" le Roi est tou fours le Roi," and that if there happened 
just then to be two of them in their midst, it was all 
the more glory and joy for them. So, entirely uncon- 
scious of any satire in their cries, they shouted en- 
thusiastically for both. 

Around the Bahnhof the multitude had gathered 
thickly, swelled by every passer-by who had been drawn 
towards the vortex in hopes of catching a glimpse of the 
cortege, if even but of the very tip of the court-chas- 
seurs' plumed hats. The crowd pressed to its closest and 
densest as the peloton d'escorte preceding the Imperial 
carriage swiftly trotted into view, and the name of Fran- 
cis-Joseph ran through the people's ranks like a flame 
through a powder-train. 

Already they trusted him ; they honored him for the 
splendid courage he displayed in assuming at so perilous a 
moment the reins of government ; they were proud of him 
as of a chosen leader; they cheered him deafeningly, es- 
pecially the women, who were beside themselves with en- 
thusiasm at his proud grace of bearing under such try- 
ing circumstances, at the courteous fashion in which he 
bowed his blond head, and the dreamy, half -eager, half- 
wistful, wholly grateful expression of his handsome 
face. 

Every heart in this small portion of his millions of new 
subjects warmed to him, and tears stood in many eyes as, 
hastily dismounting from his curvetting horse, with a 
bright and affectionate smile he helped his dethroned 

126 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

uncle to alight under the purple marquee which had 
hurriedly been raised over the station steps. 

The troops garrisoned at Olmutz were yet more en- 
thusiastic, if possible, than the burghers had been, and 
the crisp, cold, winter air resounded with far louder 
hurrahs than theirs when, followed by a large and brill- 
iant staff, the young Imperial generalissimo rode to 
the parade-ground mounted on a superb bay stallion, 
and wearing the uniform of his dragoon regiment a 
uniform still slightly dimmed by the powder-smoke of 
Santa Lucia. 

From the first the soldiers loved him with a fond, 
trustful, triumphant affection, both the old and the new 
troops, the grim, gray-haired, battle-scarred warriors of 
Radetzky, and the pink-cheeked recruits from the north 
and the south, the east and the west of his wide domin- 
ions, uniting in this unparalleled devotion. 

Most military leaders gain fame and popularity only 
after long, weary, and bitter toil, after a dreary and ex- 
hausting pilgrimage, which has silvered their heads and 
dulled their eyes and their capacity for enjoying such 
a reward, but he, this youngest of all the generals in 
his armies, gathered at once and in full the sweet 
fruitage of success, which burst into bloom spontane- 
ously like some swift, wind-sown, sun -fed flower of 
exceeding beauty, on the instant when he assumed com- 
mand. 

To-day, among the rank and file filling the parade- 
ground with a mute, still, immovable mass, there was 
not one man whose eyes did not turn affectionately on 
him, whose pride did not centre in him now so wholly 
theirs the beating of whose heart did not quicken as 
he reined in his charger and saluted them, for they knew, 
and felt, that in the slender, well-knit body of their 
young chief, their new Emperor, there lived a courage 

127 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

as great and daring as Radetzky's himself, and a fair- 
ness, a justice, a kindliness which could find no compare. 

When the brief soldierly words which he addressed to 
them were ended, a great shout arose, strong, full, echo- 
ing over and over again in ceaseless thunder to the now 
bright azure and totally cloudless skies above, and as he 
heard he became strangely pale ; his blue eyes grew dim 
as he looked upon the men whose voices shook the very 
earth in their homage to him. A light came upon his 
face which all who saw it were forever to remember, for 
in that moment he received, in all its intensity, the grand 
reward of his own sacrifice, the price of his relinquished 
youth, and realized in this first hour the perfect splendor 
of his great rulership, without a single wound from the 
thorns that hide beneath the jewels of the crown, or a 
pang of that pain which pursues and embitters every 
human joy, every human ambition, in the very hour of its 
fulfilment. 

For a few blissful minutes all doubt, all self -mis- 
trust disappeared as had they never been, and it was 
difficult for him to retain his complete self-possession 
when saluting them. Once again he galloped down the 
front of the troops, followed by his dazzling staff, accom- 
panied by the clash of lowered arms, the roll of drums, 
the glitter of unsheathed swords and presented bayo- 
nets. It was one of those hours in which life is trans- 
figured, exalted, sublimated into almost divine glory. 
No wonder that he never forgot it, nor that murmur, like 
the sound of a sea throughout ice-bound Olmutz, as he 
rode back to the palace the murmur of a great multi- 
tude, whose joy pierces deep as tears, the welcome of 
his people. And as he went, the bitterness of the past 
months was, indeed, forgotten, while in his heart rose 
one ardent prayer, that strength might be given to him 
to be ever faithful to the dreams of his youth. 

128 



CHAPTER V 

WILL the world ever quite know, ever quite realize 
what a task lay before the young monarch, as on De- 
cember 3d he awoke to the realization that he, and he 
alone, was now responsible for the pacification of a coun- 
try more than twice the size of Great Britain, a third 
larger than France, and for the prosperity of some thirty 
millions of human beings, belonging to seventeen or 
eighteen different nationalities? Will the detractors of 
monarchy ever comprehend or appreciate how, assuming 
this herculean labor as a mere boy of eighteen, he dealt 
with the crushing problem given him to solve, toiling 
through years with a nobility and wisdom, a sagacity 
and an unselfishness, seldom equalled in history? 

What pen could describe how through all Htterness 
he pursued one purpose, how through all desolation he 
followed a sublimely just course, and how, when all seem- 
ed to turn against him, he remained constant to himself 
and to his vows ay, and brought his work of neace to an 
end, as far as human work can ever be completed, to the 
lasting benefit of all those lands that are subject to his 
sceptre? 

Every rustle of forest leafage, every breath of wood- 
land air, the very odor of the rich, emerald grass, the 
fresh, free wind blowing from the mountains, the mighty 
rush of the broad, blue rivers, the rally-cry of the golden 
eagle above snowy summits, the tinkle of the ice on the 
glaciers, the faint echo of the village church-bells, and 
through the hush of the night the hive-like murmur of 
9 129 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

great and prosperous cities, all should rise towards him 
like an incense of praise and honor, for he made the Dual 
Empire what it is to-day a realm fairer than all others, 
and peopled by beings more completely satisfied with 
their lot than any I have known. 

Those who have read history I do not lay claim to an 
historical pen, but merely attempt to portray Francis- 
Joseph the man know that for months before and after 
the young Emperor's accession the land was overhung 
by the great smoke-pall of incessant wars, and that there 
was continual strife between the Empire and nearly all 
of the different nationalities which constitute it, in turn. 

The people seemed to have run mad, catching indis- 
criminately truths, half-truths, and lies, real and imag- 
inary wrongs, from the politicians in the guise of patriots 
who brayed incessantly to them, so that the few who re- 
mained sane were fain to stop their ears in distress and 
disgust. 

Misery, blind justice and blinder injustice, crippled 
creeds and broken faiths drew down a heavy twilight 
upon the land, which was deafened by the din of battle- 
fields and lurid with the glare of burning homesteads and 
blazing towns. The thirst for '-'liberty" was upon all. 
Alike those who had from birth known naught but the 
squalid dens and fetid, vicious alleys of slums, and those 
born and bred beneath forest verdure and leading the 
free, unfettered life of the country-side, babbled of "lib- 
erty," as the masses understand that elastic word, which, 
in their rendering of it, means but license to plunder and 
to murder those above them. 

There will always be mobs, especially now that the 
lower classes are being confused and made more unrea- 
sonable than ever by the thin varnish of a little educa- 
tion, and there will always be men like Caius Gracchus 
to array the plebeian against the patrician, and discover, 

13 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

to their cost, in the day of their success, that the plebeian 
is a far more cruel oppressor than the patrician himself. 

But my opinions on the matter are of little value, and 
bid fair to make my humble writing lamentably unpop- 
ular in these enlightened times. After all, human grist 
must be ground, that the round world may roll on and 
spin merrily into space, and whether the grist ap- 
proves or disapproves of the process matters but little. 
With which philosophical remark I proceed with my own 
task. 

They were tumultuously bitter, those subjects of our 
young Emperor. Riotous and desperate, they "played 
the tiger" savagely, they tore and rent whenever a prey 
came in their way, and would not be appeased even by 
such gentle and humane means as those used in Hungary 
by Feldzeugmeister von Haynau ; and who will say that 
he and his kind were not sorely tempted at times ? 

Amid this pandemonium, amid these multitudes toss- 
ed hither and thither by the lying promises of dema- 
gogues and the exasperation of the nobles, while the 
deafening, threatening roar rose louder and louder, and 
echoed farther and farther, with the tempest at its 
height, and the surging waves of human passions un- 
bridled and terrible in their menace, the Emperor alone 
kept his head with a cool, dauntless zest in peril, rode at 
the head of his troops calmly, without fear and without 
bravado, filled with a manly, deep-rooted contempt of 
danger tout simplement, and with a high sense of what his 
duty was as well. Indeed, .when his generals pointed 
out to him that he had no right to risk his life, which was 
of incalculable national value, he merely shrugged his 
shoulders and quietly explained to his horrified interloc- 
utors that no life is really of value, because there are 
always plenty more just as good to fill the vacancies, his 
clear, frank eyes resting upon them the while with a cer- 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

tain gleam of amusement which they failed to compre- 
hend. 

Time heals many wrongs and dispels many fallacies, 
and not even in Hungary, where the loyalty to Francis- 
Joseph is to-day almost as great as it is in Austria, is 
the Emperor-King any longer held in any way respon- 
sible for what are termed the barbarous reprisals of 1849. 
No more do men associate his name with that of Haynau, 
the execrated commander who terrorized Hungary, in 
his master's name, by means of which that master never 
knew or dreamed at the time, and whose fierce, unflinch- 
ing rendering of justice thrilled like a curse throughout 
the land, for Feldzeugmeister von Haynau's verdicts had 
more than the sternness of the Levitical law. He exact- 
ed two eyes for an eye, two teeth for a tooth, two lives 
for a life, and held, rightly or wrongly, that rebels should 
be slain with even sharper weapons than their own. 
Therefore, let a few short lines suffice for the mention 
of him who was so widely known by the significant ap- 
pellation of "the Butcher of Brescia," gained when, a 
few months before his advent in Hungary, he had turned 
this fairest of Lombardian cities into a hideous shambles, 
and put to the sword all those who had risen against its 
Austrian garrison. Over Hungary he was given fatal 
powers, and he used them to the uttermost, draining the 
blood of his enemies, drop by drop, spreading calamity 
and desolation wherever he went, because ".he who rises 
by the sword shall perish by the sword," and truly " every 
man was put to death according to his sin" where his re- 
lentless rule held sway. 

He wrung the hearts of the Magyars dry of all joy, of 
all pride, of all happiness, of all hope, with as much un- 
concern as they themselves wrung a goat-skin dry of 
wine in the days of their prosperity. The Emperor, had 
he known then of this mercilessness, would have stopped 

132 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

i^swiftly indeed, and when, too late, alas ! he found it out, 
this terrible discovery fell on him like the stroke of an 
iron mace; when he knew at last the width and the 
depth of the wrong wrought in his, Francis-Joseph's 
name, Haynau himself, though bold to the core and 
possessed of wellnigh unrivalled courage for one must 
do justice to all had he witnessed his master's anger, 
would have shrunk and quailed and trembled with fear. 

There can be no greater tribute paid to the chivalry of 
the Magyar character than to state, in conclusion of this 
terrible page of Hungarian history, that when Haynau's 
name had become so abhorred throughout Europe that 
the foulest criminal hiding for murder was held to be 
worthier than he of pity, when the blood-smeared fabric 
of his sorry celebrity had tumbled about him and nearly 
crushed out his own life, and when his honors, his dig- 
nities, his ambitions had all crumbled into dust like dead 
sea-fruit when, indeed, there was not a city, a village, or 
a hamlet in the breadth and length of Europe where he 
was safe from assassination, he threw himself upon the 
mercy of Hungary, claimed the protection of the hot- 
headed, warm-hearted people whom he had wronged, 
and went confidingly to finish his days on the Magyar 
land he had caused to be drenched with the blood of its 
greatest aristocrats, its fairest women, and its bravest 
soldiers. 

Vengeance lay then in the hollow of the Magyar's 
hands, to slay or to spare. Even without participating 
in this late-dealt retribution, they could have yielded up 
the tyrant to the doom he had merited by his long ca- 
reer of pitiless hatred and cruelty, but a justice higher, 
purer, loftier than that of revenge stirred in their hearts, 
one which assuredly must have pierced Haynau more 
deeply than a death-thrust, and which must as certainly 
also have brought to him his first pang of remorse ; for it 

133 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

was a justice of mercy dealt to one who had never shown 
any, of pity to this ardent apostle of a yet harsher law 
than the stern, ruthless lex talionis of Israel, and bitter 
of acceptance it must have seemed to his untamable 
spirit. 

Under the sapphire-blue skies of Hungary Feldzeug- 
meister von Haynau spent the remainder of his life. 
Under the lustre of its great, silvery, almost Oriental 
moon, of its red-gold sun, he vainly strove to put from 
him the remembrance of the past, and during all that 
time never did even a drunken peasant, by coarse jest 
or jeering look, recall to his mind his impotence to roll 
away a single stone from the crimsoned cairn that he 
himself had heaped to his own memory; and, thanks to 
the astonishing magnanimity of his enemies, to the gen- 
erosity of the compatriots and relatives of his very vic- 
tims, he found in Hungary sanctuary safer even than did 
the criminals of olden times at the foot of the sacred 
altars. 

While Haynau was yet repressing and oppressing Hun- 
gary, however, across the barrier of the Alps, in the 
gladiolus-filled marshes and the green, mulberry-shaded 
pastures of Northern Italy, in the crocus-studded mead- 
ows of the Veneto, and beneath the gold-and-purple sun- 
sets of Lombardy, under the canopies of trellised vines, 
the tall hedges of laurier rose, sulle Rive d'Adria bella, 
and far into the mountainous north country where huge 
barges, laden with white and purple figs, amber pears, 
rosy apples, and great baskets filled with golden grapes 
flap their gayly painted sails lazily above the lily-choked 
waters of turquoise lakes raged the deadly struggle 
between the blue-coats of Italy and the white-coats of 
Austria. 

The Italians were tired of that bitter warfare, and 
fierce in their wrath, not only against the Austrians, but 

134 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

alo against their leader, King Charles-Albert of Sardinia, 
whom they accused of "banqueting at ease in palaces " 
while their hearths were desolate, their children food- 
less, and their wives, mothers, and babes dying of fever 
like flies. Unjust as were their loud murmurs against 
the man who, to believe them, had forgotten them, sold 
them, and been faithless and untrue to his pledges, yet 
their misery was great, their frames were gnawed with 
want, and they had been forced to recoil again and 
again before the shock of Austria's onset. 

Charles-Albert himself was maddened with indignation 
by the disaffection of his soldiers and subjects against him. 
"They curse me behind my back ; let us see what they will 
dare say to my face!" he exclaimed, angrily, on the morn- 
ing of the battle of Novara, and, disregarding the warn- 
ings of his generals and of his staff, he mounted a fresh 
horse, and, with teeth clinched and hands sternly gripped 
on the bridle, he rode straight into his sullen, fog-soak- 
ed, powder-begrimed Piedmontese army, so embittered 
against him, so ready to upbraid him, if nothing worse, 
down into the close- wedged ranks, into the very heart of 
the malcontents and rebels, till, when his charger could 
push a way no further, he contemptuously faced those who 
but a few moments before were loudly clamorous against 
him without a flicker of his keen, brave eyes. 

Utter amazement followed this certainly most unex- 
pected apparition in the dark smoke and the white, cling- 
ing, drenching fog, and a great silence fell upon the whole 
enormous assembly. 

"So you are cursing and upbraiding me, I am told!" 
he cried, in a voice which penetrated to the very last 
ranks of his momentarily cowed troops. "See! I am 
here, tell me what wrong I have done you?" 

There was in the familiar, challenging tone something 
which struck a chord never quite dumb in men's hearts, 

" 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

white in the cool bravery, the sang-froid of the King, 
sitting firmly on his nervously plunging horse, his face 
unblanched, his eyes meeting theirs with complete 
and undisguised scorn, was something which tempo- 
rarily arrested their mad irritation. But suddenly a 
single piping, shrill voice cried out from some undis- 
covered point: "Give up the crown, or down with 
you!" 

At once savage yells and uncouth oaths broke from 
these men, persuaded that they were but poor, purblind 
tools, forced to do all the dirty, difficult work for this 
man set so high above them, obliged to tunnel his way for 
him, to throw the bridges by which he hoped to pass on 
to victory, while they lay gasping, dying, wounded, 
starved, cast aside, unrewarded and unthanked, and a 
fierce grudge against what they called his pestilential 
tyranny burned in their breasts. Were they, then, to be 
forever and ever the mill-horses made to grind for his 
profit and glory? So they roared and shouted them- 
selves hoarse, hurling the most undeserved and senseless 
charges at him, while he listened, unmoved, his thorough- 
bred rearing and fretting, terrified at the pushing forms 
jammed and crushed against its sleek sides, at the forest 
of hands and arms tossing in violent protest, at the thou- 
sands of voices thundering imprecations, at the hungry, 
savage sea of upturned faces, with bright, fierce eyes 
and wide-open mouths foul with curses and twisted with 
slavering hatred. 

Late that night, in a little peasant hut sheltered by 
trees dripping with the soaking rain, which veiled the 
whole landscape and dulled and blotted it out like a 
soaked fusain drawing one of those cheerless nights 
which even in balmy Italy are dreary and depressing and 
overhung with mist and cloud beyond all description 
Count Thurn, Commandant of the Fourth Austrian 

136 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Army Corps sat with several of his officers around a fire 
of crackling pine-cones and dried furze. 

The house, low, lonely, poor, was overhung with fes- 
toons of vines beginning to bud, through which the 
swiftly descending drops pattered lugubriously. In the 
darkness, beyond the faint glow filtering through the 
wet window, a few shepherds, goat-herds, and, per- 
chance, one or two men of a less peaceable calling, whose 
arguments had much to do with powder, ball, and dagger, 
had taken shelter beneath a gigantic fig-tree, beside a 
pool of green, slimy water, on the other side of which the 
troopers of Count Thurn's escort had tethered their 
horses under a half-demolished shed. 

Suddenly a small travelling-carriage came in sight, 
the tired horses splashing and sinking wearily over their 
fetlocks in reddish liquid mire; it stopped before the 
rickety door of the little house, and from it descended 
a man who walked with a slight lameness from a strain 
in his right foot. This did not detract from a proud, 
somewhat commanding grace of bearing, stamping him 
at first glance as a personage of distinction, and when he 
advanced into the miserable room where Count Thurn 
and the officers of his staff had just supped, they rose to 
greet him, inwardly wondering who so grand-looking a 
man could be, travelling thus accompanied by a single 
humble attendant, who had remained outside with the 
goat-skin-clad driver of the little travelling-carriage. 

The stranger stood bareheaded before the Austrian 
commander and bowed. " I am Count de Barge, a Pied- 
montese cavalry officer, and after your forces won the 
battle of Novara I obtained permission to absent myself 
from the army during the duration of the armistice. 
Your Emperor should be a proud man to-night, for his 
army has fought bravely and fairly. Charles- Albert has 
abdicated, and you will now no doubt conclude peace on 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

easy and honorable terms. Will you pardon me if I in- 
trude upon you for a few moments while my sorry team 
is fed?" 

" You are welcome, sir! Any stranger, be he friend or 
foe, is entitled to shelter on such a night, but pray do not 
waste breath or time on courtesies ; you must be tired and 
hungry. Let me see what our meagre larder can offer 
you." 

"No, no! Do not trouble," he replied. "A cup of 
the hot coffee I see on the table is all I need, since you 
are so kind." 

There was a charm in this stranger's manner that was 
quite irresistible; he talked well and with a great ac- 
curacy of knowledge about military matters in general, 
and the present war in particular, and Count Thurn de- 
rived much pleasure from the cultured and sympathetic 
conversation of this brilliant and interesting unknown, 
who certainly possessed the gift of facile and eloquent 
words to an unusual degree. 

At last he rose abruptly. Two hours and a half had 
gone by since he had entered the hut. Count Thurn 
signed his pass through the Austrian line before accom- 
panying him to the door. 

"It would be commonplace to thank you. I have 
trespassed too long on your patience, and you have been 
courtesy itself to a fallen enemy," he said, in gracious 
acknowledgment . 

Count Thurn made a gesture of deprecation, and bowed 
very low. 

" Good-night, sir ; there can be no mention of gratitude 
on your part. It is for us to thank you, for you have 
spoken to our hearts. Good-night again, and may you 
have a fair and safe journey." 

When " Count de Barge" had bowed himself out, and 
the creaking door had closed behind him, Thurn glanced 

138 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

a his watch ; it was three hours after midnight, and in the 
distance the sonorous voice of a young shepherd was 
singing as he drove his sheep through the slackening rain 
towards the distant pastures: 

" Ad ogni finestra vo' tendere un lacio 
A tradimento per tradir la luna 
A tradimento per tradir le stelle 
A tradimento per tradir il sole 
Perche restai tradito dall' Amore!" 

Many days later Count Thurn discovered that his 
guest of that night was no less a personage than King 
Charles-Albert on his way to seek a refuge in Portugal, 
where, three months afterwards, he died at Oporto of a 
broken heart. The one servant who had accompanied 
him on the evening of Novara, and who alone followed 
him into exile, closed the eyes of the proud and valiant 
man, who, after abdicating in favor of his son Victor- 
Emmanuel, had absolutely refused to be treated other- 
wise than as a simple citizen. 

Nevertheless, this brave and noble monarch also re- 
ceived his quota of public censure. The foul wanderers 
of the air love to gather and croak jeeringly around the 
dying eagle, and the ever-generous masses, like the toad 
in the mud-hole who spits industriously at the firefly, 
never miss a chance of defiling that which shines above 
them and which their ignorance forbids them to appre- 
ciate. 

********* 

********* 
Within ten months after his accession to the throne 
young Emperor Francis-Joseph whom we have long 
neglected, it seems to me stood supreme in his war- 
torn dominions. Hungary had at first defied him suc- 
cessfully, but Russian aid and dissensions among the 

139 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

insurgent leaders at length enabled him to bring to an 
end the Hungarian rebellion, while the genius of Radetz- 
ky, by the crowning defeat at Novara, saved the Italian 
provinces to the Empire. 

Once more the Austrians held undisputed sway 
throughout the plains of the Po. The carven palaces of 
Venice, with their great pointed doors and wide flights of 
water-steps the "Queen of the Adriatic," with its fugi- 
tive and unutterable fascination, its green, luxuriant Lido, 
shaded by acacia and cereus, its balmy air and radiant 
light, its never-ceasing melodies floating down the moon- 
bathed lagoons, its delicious fragrance wafted from the 
millions of blossoms studding the Brenta meadows, and 
many other lovely, covetable cities filled with art treas- 
ures of priceless worth, were theirs forever at least, they 
thought so and the inhabitants of these conquered 
lands were bidden to make the best of it. But discon- 
tent smouldered beneath the surface. Beautiful Italian 
great ladies, proudly ensconced in the galleries of old 
palazzi, cursed between their pearly teeth the white- 
coated stranieri, and glanced wistfully at the historic 
walls around them, which had failed to ward off that 
trans-Alpine domination which they considered so crush- 
ing a disgrace. 

In the narrow, sun-baked streets of Verona, within its 
grim old fortifications, where emerald-hued lizards scam- 
per away at the mere rustle of the brown grass* within 
its desolate houses, beat many hearts that burned for 
revenge against the light-hearted conquerors who were 
seeking to waltz themselves into favor to the gay strains 
of their regimental bands, and who poured floods of pret- 
ty speeches into the unwilling ears of those modern re- 
productions of the pretty, black-eyed maidens, immortal- 
ized by the masterly hand of their great compatriot, 
Paolo Veronese. 

140 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Every heart held close to the past, and the spectator 
was moved to a curious sense that the present was unreal, 
and that the clock of time had been suddenly set back 
many years. The people would not break the spell, nor 
allow themselves to believe that their dream of national 
glory had fled forever, but all the gay, elastic insou- 
ciance of the Latin temperament was gone from them, and 
they were content only when, after the Couvre-feu had 
sounded, their towns grew still, the pigeons went to 
roost with a great whir of wings in the square, ivy- 
grown church-towers, and the old chimes called the 
faithful to "Ave-Maria." 

The keenest observers alone detected a scent of death 
amid the spiced odors of the pine woods and a reek as of 
the blood that was later to be shed heavy upon the air of 
Lombardy and Venetia ; saw the faint gleam of the star 
of liberty rising slowly, furtively above the mountains; 
and heard a faint, prophetic sound as of the strife that 
was soon to come again and destroy so many young 
Austrian and Italian lives ; but for the time being Aus- 
trian hearts beat high with pride, because the joy of suc- 
cess was theirs. 

And, during all these months, what of Archduchess 
Sophia? More proudly than ever, now that she could 
distinctly see the superb results of her training, she loved 
her Imperial son. The hand of time which mellows and 
softens all things had not altered her haughty chilliness 
nor changed the stately, noble-looking woman in a single 
particular, yet towards her eldest boy her heart yearned 
in all his troubles and vicissitudes, and beat high when, 
watching him from afar, she saw how his splendid nat- 
ure, at the first call of duty, had leaped up from its qui- 
escence, like a lion from its sleep. 

She never permitted him to know it, of course, but 
she was determined that his life should still be moulded 

141 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

by her will, and by her decree she still held that his fate 
should be ruled. Although, in justice to her be it said, 
that when, during that fearful year of 1849, s ^e saw the 
haggard, broken look his young face wore, the hollow 
circles beneath his eyes, the air of wearing pain hardly 
concealed by the quiet dignity of his bearing, she was 
seized with a baffled sense of despair at these sorrowful 
signs of what her ambition had brought upon him and 
was now quite beyond her power to alter. 

Her soul had striven to accomplish a great and noble 
work, she had given her whole life to this end, and as she 
gained it she could not but see that it left him, in the 
first flower of his youth, to suffer for her boundless am- 
bition. Yet, even at such moments of bitter and poig- 
nant regret, she would not yield or confess even to her- 
self that her darling's happiness and freedom had been 
and was forever sacrificed. She would have given her 
life for his, but she would not admit that, in so far as 
Franz himself was concerned, the fruit of her sowing was 
evil, and that the burden of sovereignty she had laid 
upon him was passing heavy, even for his broad, young 
shoulders. 

Indeed, his burden was during those weary months an 
especially crushing weight, and the young Emperor, who 
soon after his accession had selected as the motto expres- 
sive of his political ideal Viribus Unitis (united forces), 
saw moments when he might well despair of the realiza- 
tion of this fair dream. 

It was when Jellachich was ignominiously beaten by 
Gorgey, the great Hungarian commander, on the 6th of 
April, at Isaszeg, that Archduchess Sophia saw her son's 
calm utterly broken for the first time. They had been 
discussing the gravity of the situation together earnestly 
when news of the catastrophe arrived. 

The Archduchess drew nearer to him and laid her 

142 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

hand upon his shoulder that hand made to hold so 
fifmly and to relinquish power so unwillingly. 

He did not move nor turn his eyes to her, but sat mo- 
tionless and silent, and the mother's white and shapely 
fingers involuntarily tightened their light grasp, her fine, 
clear-cut features growing pale, her lips twitching ever 
so slightly. 

Gently but inexorably he put her hand from him and 
moved away a little. 

A shiver ran through her frame, and both her hands 
this time fell upon his shoulders again. 

"My son," she said, in a calm, cold voice, "I am 
your mother, and also your best and most loyal ad- 
viser. I have brought you to the throne, and it is 
but meet that I should help you now to bear your 
troubles." 

The veins swelled upon the young man's temples; he 
was deadly white, and he moved from beneath her touch 
once more. 

"My own peace, my life, my soul I would give all 
to stop this carnage, to attain my aim, which was to 
bring them peace and happiness, but I cannot, I can- 
not!" he cried, desperately, struggling vainly with un- 
controllable emotion. 

The words rang out in passionate bitterness, in piti- 
less condemnation of himself, and the imperious woman, 
who had never as yet known fear, trembled as she heard 
them and was sore afraid, for until that hour she had 
never suspected, nay, not even she, the depths of his 
character. 

"You have done better than well until now, Franz," 
she protested. "You have accomplished more than 
any man of your age ever did. Effort is for man, my 
child, but the result is with God. Cease to blame your- 
self so unjustly." 

143 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

"I have done nothing, accomplished nothing; my ef- 
fort has been barren." 

His voice sounded hollow with pain, like a cry wrung 
from the breaking strength of a courageous soul, and his 
mother shivered a second time, while in her eyes, which 
had rarely shown such weakness, tears gathered tears 
for his so sorely tried strength and for his passing weak- 
ness, for the grief depicted on his face, for the misery of 
it all and the tenderness which was ever a hidden 
treasure with this high-spirited, high -mettled woman 
momentarily transformed her whole being into a truly 
gracious figure of motherhood, and bore down the harsh- 
ness which she had at first assumed as a tonic for his 
shaken nerves. 

For one long hour his step unceasingly paced the room 
where they were alone together, while she sat on a 
carved, high-backed chair, motionless from the crown 
of her shapely head since a few weeks delicately frosted 
with a little silver to the hem of her olive-hued velvet 
gown, giving no further sign of her pity or her adora- 
tion for the only living being for whom she really cared, 
since just then both sympathy and severity seemed 
equally unbearable to him. 

At last he stopped his weary walk, the recently ac- 
quired bronze of his face paled to a sickly tint, and stood 
before her quite silent, save for the deep-drawn breath- 
ing that shook his tall frame. In that hour he had suf- 
fered more cruel chastisement than pursues guilt from 
prison to scaffold; now, however, he was almost master 
of himself, and when he spoke his voice, although a 
little forced in its constraint, was nearly steady. 

"I have been mad for a while, I think, but I must 
be so no longer. I will place myself at the head of Ben- 
edek's Brigade and I will march upon Raab. I have 
been kept here too long, because I was told that my 

144 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

presence upon the bastions encouraged and heartened the 
tr6ops ; but action in the field is what I need ; nothing else 
will restore my energy to me." And he smiled faintly. 

The Archduchess had risen and stood before him, 
strangely touched, although every word the young Em- 
peror spoke quivered like a knife in her heart, and, in 
, the bitterness of her anxiety, she suddenly became con- 
' scious that she had at last encountered a determination 
beside which even her own was dwarfed. 

For a moment there was silence, and in that moment 
the tortured mother gathered back her strength, and 
resumed the armor of calm composure which she wore 
nearly always with friend and foe. 

"Franz, you are nobler and greater than I had ever 
dreamed you would be," she said, simply. 

He turned his head away with a quick gesture, so that 
she might not see the sudden tears which prevented him 
from speaking, his hand closed on the one held to him, he 
bowed low, kissed the cold fingers lying passively with- 
in his own, then the dull echo of the closing door vi- 
brated through the silence and Archduchess Sophia was 
alone. 

Alone with a grief so sharp in its poignancy, so utter 
in its desolation, that even her pride in him was, for 
the time, wholly inadequate to console her. The words 
that he had uttered, the light of self-sacrifice which 
she had beheld on his face, were now her tempters and 
torturers. Should she bid him spare himself and her; 
should she now, after all her teachings and examples, 
recant? The very thought of so great a humiliation 
was unbearable; but in a flash she realized what her 
life would be should he fall in one of the battles which 
drenched the fair soil of the Empire she had made his 
with blood; her fevered imagination displayed to her 
the terrible, lonely, loveless course of years which she 
10 145 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

would be condemned to pass. Could she endure it? 
Her head sank between her hands, great sobs heaved 
her breast, shaking her from head to foot, and she 
wept, not as women weep, but as men weep, from the 
depth of their being; she had hardly strength for such 
a trial. Yet, breathe in his ear the whispers of cau- 
tion, undo if she could, and that she doubted the 
labor of eighteen years, sacrifice his reverence and ad- 
miration for herself! She could not. No, no! Not even 
her mother's love, her mother's fears could make her do 
such a thing. 

The twilight deepened into night, the shadows grew 
more sombre around her, but still she sat there, her head 
bowed, her heart and soul turning to water within her. 
Of what avail were now her pride, her will, her iron force, 
her haughty dominance, since they could not shield her 
from this misery, the common lot of mothers. The long 
corridors and vast halls of the Hofburg were as silent as 
death, save for the occasional faint sound of an Arcieren- 
gard's muffled step as he went his rounds. From afar, 
now and again, the sharp rattle of musketry came from 
the ramparts, or the challenge of a sentry rang out with a 
swift click of arms from the inner yard below her open 
windows; but hours passed and she did not move, until 
out of the sheer weariness of her misery arose reconquered 
resolution; the doubts, the conflicting ambitions, hopes 
and fears for Franz her son, and Francis- Joseph her ideal 
sovereign, that had torn her heart asunder, fell from her, 
and, throwing herself upon her bed as the dawn broke, 
she slept dreamlessly sleep bringing her oblivion and 
peace. 

She awakened with the light of the sun, warm and 
clear, beating upon her face. The memory of a great 
struggle came back to her, but softened by a strange feel- 
ing of relief, of serenity, and also of self-pity, for she real- 

146 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ized now how futile would have been her efforts had she 
attempted, in her folly, to turn him from his purpose. 
Nor was she again shaken in the knowledge of her limita- 
tions when she bade him God-speed a few hours later, 
and saw in his eyes, blent with his habitual look of fond 
reverence for herself, when she heard in his voice, al- 
though yet tenderer than usual, an unconquerable de- 
termination, a resolve which could no longer be swayed 
or bent at her will. 

Never, in all that had gone before, did the Austrian 
troops behave so superbly as when, with their young 
sovereign at their head, his well-known, well-loved voice 
thrilling their stout hearts, the brigade of Benedek 
forced an entrance into the Hungarian town of Raab , and 
drove the insurgents to take refuge in Acs, where they 
were soon to be surrounded by their victorious enemies. 

When he led them the Austrian forces were invincible ; 
they surged about him, striking, thrusting, pouring down 
upon their antagonists like torrents of lava from the 
heart of a volcano, bursting through bristling forests of 
steel, and foot to foot, breast to breast, rolling back the 
desperate tide of Magyar valor. Francis-Joseph greatly 
honored these men who so magnificently opposed him, 
and I have myself heard him say of them, "They were 
fighters who would take no quarter, who kept their faces 
to the front till they were stretched in heaps upon the 
ground, and their unconquerable bravery made our vic- 
tories almost as costly as defeats." 

But how shall I describe the boundless gratitude, the 
joy too deep for words, of Archduchess Sophia when both 
Italian and Hungarian war-clouds had rolled away from 
the land, and when, looking upon her son, she saw in 
him the saviour of the Habsburg Crown and the Habs- 
burg honor? The radiance in his eyes quivered deep in 
her own heart, and there was on her face which showed 

147 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

indelible traces of her cruel anxieties during the past 
weeks the light of an unutterable gladness which he 
had not seen there even on his return after Santa Lucia, 
though she forbore to throw her arms about him in a 
frenzy of triumph. For the first time in her life she was 
completely and blissfully content, and he, too, smiled 
happily upon her, for the intensity of her jealous and im- 
perious love for him, great in its usurpation of his whole 
personality, had never as yet alarmed him, as it might 
well have done had he but known what was to follow. 

The unforeseen is chiefly dreaded by women, by men 
more rarely, and by such men as Francis-Joseph never; 
and, holding her upon his heart, pressing her closely to 
his breast, he could not dream that that very love would 
bring his strength and his life to their uttermost strain 
of endurance, and fetter him, and another dearer than all 
else, in unbreakable, un en durably galling chains, until, 
like a man bruised and stunned by mortal blows, he 
should be shaken by a voiceless agony and overwhelmed 
by the deep waters of a bitter anguish. 

The Emperor's attitude towards Radetzky, who had 
so splendidly saved Lombardy to the Empire, was a ver- 
itable revelation of the depths of gratitude his young 
heart could contain, and the grace and courtliness, the 
almost filial tenderness of his manner to the aged war- 
rior became him well indeed. 

Radetzky 's step had now become feeble, his back was 
bent, and his wrinkled countenance showed but too plain- 
ly the fatigue and strain of the eighty-one valiant years 
he had left behind him ; but his smile was still infinitely 
bright, there was an undying humor about the lines of 
his mouth, and he had as yet lost none of his interest in 
life. 

In the spring of 1849 ne na cl received the Order of the 
Golden Fleece at the hands of Archduke Wilhelm, sent by 

148 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

tfye Emperor to confer upon him this mark of favor rare 
in the case of non-royal personages, and a gold, silver, 
and bronze medal of great beauty, around which was 
graven, "Josephus, Conies Radetsky, Summus Austria 
Dux" (Joseph, Count Radetzky, Chief Captain of Aus- 
tria), but a still more graceful tribute was in store for 
him. 

On the morning of his first namesday after the battle 
of Novara, upon entering his study, he found on his desk 
a superbly carved double-headed eagle of oxidized sil- 
ver standing with outspread wings upon an onyx column, 
the foot of which was adorned with exquisitely wrought 
war trophies. Between its clutching talons the Imperial 
bird held a miniature portrait of the Emperor, beauti- 
fully executed, and an envelope containing the following 
lines, written by the giver, Archduchess Sophia: 

" Der du gedeckt den Kaiserhaar 
Du Gottes starker Heldenschild 
O! werd'der Mutter Dank gewahr 
Du ihres Herrn und Sohnes' Bild! 

" Dein Vateraug' sich dran erfreu' 
Bis dass, vom Reich beweint, es bricht 
Und dir, der Herr fur deine Treu' 
Urns Schwert den ew' gen Lorbeer flicht!" 

Beside this magnificent present there reposed in a pur- 
ple velvet box a sparkling sword, and upon its wonder- 
fully chiselled and jewelled hilt was inscribed in diamond 
letters, "To the greatest and the most valorous soldier 
of Austria, from his grateful sovereign and pupil, Francis- 
Joseph I." The remaining space upon the broad, oaken 
table was covered with stephanotis Radetzky 's favorite 
flower and with fresh, green, crisp branches of laurels, 
bearing their innumerable metallic-looking little berries. 

The grim old warrior stood, looking from one to the 

149 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

other of these touching tokens of reverence and affection, 
in silent gratitude, the golden motes of the sunbeams 
dancing in through the open window growing vague and 
confused before his eyes as he thought of the loyal, con- 
stant, brave young sovereign who, at so early an age, 
had just gone through so harsh and bitter a training, and 
whom pride had kept always silent when most sorely 
troubled, even with this dear old friend whom he so 
greatly trusted. 

Often Radetzky's heart had ached for him, and had he 
followed his impulse he would have spoken to the boy he 
loved words of consoling sympathy and encouragement ; 
but well he knew that this would have been not only the 
most inadvisable but the most distasteful thing that he 
could have done. 

Radetzky did full justice to Archduchess Sophia. He 
recognized that the weapons she used were of a nature to 
cut the hands which plied them sooner or later, that she 
was an irritatingly exacting and terribly autocratic and 
imperious woman, but neither was he blind to her many 
grand qualities, and, thinking of the finer, he overlooked 
the less pleasing side of her nature, although what his 
keen, shrewd spirit allowed him to divine of Francis- 
Joseph's future, when the mother's love and blind jeal- 
ousy would find a rival really worthy of her steel, brought 
him that birthday morn into a train of thoughts which 
were an acute pain. 

"Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait," he mur- 
mured sadly to the amazed aide-de-camp who had just 
entered, arid who stood respectfully at a distance looking 
over at the table where the magnificent Imperial eagle 
glittered in the morning light. 

When, nine years later, the heroic old man breathed his 
last, there had, alas, already happened much to justify 
his fears. 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

. It was in Northern Italy, still then under Austrian rule, 
but in Italy, that land of contrasts par excellence, where 
sighs and laughter, mirth and death, love and hatred are 
ever as cunningly intermingled as the scarlet tulips of 
Lombardy are with its rippling meadow-grasses, or the 
stars of the silvery -leaved borage, rolling their azure 
waves with the golden wheat-fields of Piedmont, that Ra- 
detzky's ninety-two years were brought to a close, with- 
out a pang, and with the shadow of his old, brave smile on 
his lips, together with a last blessing from his departing 
soul for his beloved sovereign. His body, however, was 
brought home in great pomp, and at his splendid funeral 
all those present could see how profound was the sorrow 
of the young Emperor at the irreparable loss of his dear 
old friend. 



CHAPTER VI 

GREAT changes began to take place throughout the 
Empire as soon as peace was restored. The young 
monarch had ripened rapidly during the first months of 
his arduous and difficult reign, and with his usual decis- 
ion he immediately set about doing what he had ap- 
pointed for himself to do. And allow me to add that 
when Francis-Joseph sets his mind to accomplish a thing, 
his friends and his enemies alike know that his obstina- 
cy to call it by a very hard name is very difficult to 
overcome. 

His life was now one of the most brilliant and envied 
in the world, although there were many things to worry, 
annoy, and distress him still, many miseries which he 
could not alleviate, and which weighed upon his kind 
heart, many sudden crises which yawned like abysses 
before his feet, and which could at a moment's notice 
precipitate Austria into fathomless desolation. 

These awful responsibilities that had descended upon 
his life, as swiftly as in tropical latitudes the violet night 
falls down upon the dazzling day, often depressed him 
deeply. Sometimes he looked mechanically round upon 
the glitter of his Court, upon the fair lands that he ruled, 
wondering greatly at the suddenness and contrast of the 
change, and bent his head as though under the weight 
of some great bodily burden, but, ever mindful of a fa- 
vorite maxim, " He who endures, conquers," he faced life 
and duty alike with proud serenity, never giving any 
outward sign of regret or of weariness. 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

A fitting motto, indeed, for that man of ever- vigi- 
lant energy, whose intensity of application has always 
been such that throughout all his long life he has never 
allowed himself to slur over anything, or to omit search- 
ing out the minutest points of every subject that he has 
encountered! He has given his personal attention to 
every detail of administration, making himself as accessi- 
ble to the lowliest peasant as to the greatest noble, has 
investigated thoroughly all aspects of every question, 
and fully deliberated every step before it was taken. 
And yet neither the enormous amount of work he has 
accomplished rising at five every morning and being 
at his desk before six, often even still earlier nor the 
few short hours set aside for sleep, nor even the ex- 
cessive bodily fatigue entailed by countless other duties, 
necessitated by the way in which he understood and 
performed son metier de souverain, ever told on his 
health. His eyes are as bright, his skin as clear, his 
step as buoyant after his overwhelming task is over 
for the day, as when he arises before dawn from the 
little, narrow camp-bed which has always been his 
fad. 

And notwithstanding all the cares and distractions 
that pressed upon him, none have ever come to him for 
help and gone away empty-handed or empty-hearted; 
he has granted his aid and patronage to every unfriended 
talent or merit, and has ever had a kind word or a gen- 
erous action for all who approached him as he followed 
his difficult way through the toil, the envy, the insin- 
cerity, and the bitterness of this world. 

Of course one gains experience and skill in his as in 
every other walk of life, but even at the time of which I 
write, the Emperor, with the rapidity of a perfectly 
trained mind, already had every detail of the great Im- 
perial engine clear as crystal always before him; his con- 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ciseness and comprehensiveness were unerring and of al- 
most mathematical exactness. 

He no more lost his head, now that success began to 
smile upon his plans, than when the situation had been 
at its darkest, and he pursued his way clear of eye as of 
conscience, and quite regardless of what might be said 
of him by friend or foe, for another of his favorite say- 
ings has always been: "No man in his senses should 
care for public applause or public condemnation, see- 
ing with whom the verdict is always shared." Young 
as he was, his eyes had been washed by the collyrium 
of experience, and he understood and appreciated adula- 
tions at their full value; indeed, there was a queer little 
smile on his lips sometimes which greatly disconcerted 
his most ardent courtiers. 

Under such a man the great work of reconstruction 
could not but go swiftly forward. Wise regulations en- 
couraged agriculture, industry, and commerce in the war- 
racked land, countless abuses were corrected, and taxes 
abolished. A new scheme of national education was de- 
vised and set in operation ; new highways were construct- 
ed in all parts of the country ; the railroad system greatly 
extended ; and the instigator of all these schemes had the 
satisfaction of seeing that his assiduity, his heroic self- 
forgetfulness were reaping their reward, and that his in- 
fluence for good was growing greater every day. 

The methods by which he wrought all this have been 
bitterly criticised, alike by the small-minded, who greatly 
love to carp at those above them, and by the sober ad- 
herent of modern political systems, the special offences 
cited being, first, that within three years of his acces- 
sion on the i st of January, 1852, he abolished the Con- 
stitution of the Empire, and for the next eight years, 
ruled as the head of a strongly centralized "military 
despotism," so called, only according constitutional 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

rights to his subjects again in 1860; and, secondly, that 
by the Concordat of 1855 he greatly strengthened the 
power of the Church throughout his dominions, and 
practically delivered matters educational into ecclesi- 
astical hands. 

It is strange that there should be so little comprehen- 
sion of the character of Francis-Joseph, and of the realm 
which he rules. 

It should be remembered that half a century after 
the founders of New England crossed the Atlantic, the 
greater part of Hungary, or nearly one-half of the Dual 
Empire, as it is to-day, was still under the dominion 
of the Turks, who were only entirely expelled in 1718. 
Of the Empire's present population of forty - five mill- 
ions it has increased by fifteen millions since the Em- 
peror's accession some eleven millions are Germans, 
some nine millions Magyars, and the remaining twenty- 
five millions are for the most part divided among the 
various Slavonic nationalities and dialects, as, for ex- 
ample, Bohemian, Pole, Slovak, Slovene, and Croat. Of 
late years though this is aside from the subject to 
" make the gruel thick and slab " by the mixture of re- 
ligion as well as of race, many thousands of Bosnian and 
Herzegovinian Mohammedans have been added to it. 
The mass of the people is agricultural, and if even to-day 
they are ignorant and primitive enough, fifty years ago, 
rated according to these characteristics, the country 
stood very close to Russia indeed, without Russia's lin- 
guistic and racial solidarity. Fiery Teuton, semi-Ori- 
ental Magyar, and rude Slav, with the feuds and hatreds 
of ages in their hearts, were only to be kept from tearing 
each other's throats by the Imperial authority and that 
of the Church. 

Was such an assemblage ripe for partial self-govern- 
ment, for a constitution, when our Emperor ascended 

155 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

the throne? No, a thousand times no! And, if the 
truth is to be told, it seems as if it were not ripe for 
it even now, and would not be for long years to come, 
as would appear to be abundantly proven by the in- 
cessant squabbles and disturbances of which the Lower 
House of the Reichsrath has been the scene ever since 
1860. 

Could Francis- Joseph, moreover, have succeeded in 
transforming and pacifying such a realm, crippled, rav- 
aged, and scourged by centuries of strife and bloodshed, 
in less than ten short years had he been hampered by a 
Parliament? No, again; a million, million times no! 
It is because for that period of time he worked alone, 
great as was the labor, that now from mountain to plain, 
from vine-clad hamlet to populous city, from sapphire 
sea to sparkling Alpine glacier, Austro-Hungary is what 
she is to-day, peaceful and prosperous. It is thanks 
to that man alone, whose name should be blazoned in 
gold on all her monuments, and cherished in every Aus- 
trian heart ; it is thanks to his limitless courage, wisdom, 
and perseverance that a collection of semi-feudal king- 
doms and dependencies were moulded into a modern 
state. 

The autumn of 1851 was a singularly cold and severe 
one ; heavy storms swept down from the mountains of the 
" Salzkammergut " and of Tyrol, and the incessant sound 
of rain filled the lulls of the furious winds. Rivers, 
streams, brooks, lakes swelled past all belief and spread 
desolation and terror through every valley and plain 
which bordered their channels. At first homesteads, 
then clusters of houses, and finally whole villages were 
washed away, ponderous dams burst asunder under the 
pressure of the waters as had they been built of match- 
wood, newly made high-roads were totally destroyed, 
and great wheat-fields swept into worthless heaps of 

156 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

sodden straw by innocent-looking little rills of murmur- 
ing foam, that tumbled merrily at dawn over banks of 
forget-me-nots, and at nightfall had changed into dev- 
astating torrents. Many lives were sacrificed, and the 
stricken people were losing all courage before this calam- 
ity, and failing to take proper measures for the safety of 
what remained to them, or, in one word, to make the best 
of a situation already sufficiently bad, when news came 
that the Emperor was on his way to personally help 
them in their distress. 

Any other than Francis-Joseph would assuredly have 
considered that to send help and any moneys that the 
necessities of the moment demanded would be all that 
could be expected of him. Not so the young wearer of 
the Dual Crown, to whom this was but a new call for per- 
sonal action, and who, as soon as the news of those disas- 
ters reached him, lost no time, but started immediately 
over extremely unsafe and precipitous mountain-roads 
for he had been hunting in Carinthia towards that por- 
tion of his Empire which was so sorely stricken. 

The trip was in itself no mean peril, for the roads were 
barely passable, thanks to the mountain water-courses 
dashing under and over them in many places, and the 
furious rain pouring, swirling, and thundering without 
any merciful intermission from leaden, lowering skies; 
but when His Majesty's post-chaise became untenable, 
its determined occupant first rode on a pony well used to 
mountain travel, and finally walked, in order to reach 
his destination. 

There are few things more dreary and dismal to look 
upon than a prosperous country devastated by flood, the 
ochre-colored water thick with mud and detritus, the 
frightened birds flying above the turbid swirl with shrill 
cries, the continual clangor of the church-bells sound- 
ing the tocsin between the gusts and whistlings of the 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

wind, the rich pastures and carefully cultivated fields 
changed into more or less shallow lakes, or cut across by 
foaming channels,' the fruit-laden orchards immersed to 
the summit of the trees, make up a tout ensemble which 
awes the bravest; and yet when, at the end of a short, 
foggy, gray day, the Emperor appeared amid this deso- 
lation, there was so bright and heartening a smile upon 
his handsome young face that frightened and disheart- 
ened men, women, and children came scrambling from 
the precarious shelters where they had temporarily hud- 
dled, and threw themselves wildly at his feet, uttering 
cries of joy and of hope, and calling blessings on his 
name. 

His mere presence immediately revived their energy, 
and, after clinging to him like hysterical children, and 
being quietly but sternly reproved for their weakness, 
they set about to obey his orders willingly and even 
cheerfully. The life-saving boats were, unfortunately, 
quite inadequate in number, quality, and size, but, 
nevertheless, some kind of method and system was soon 
organized, and really one can assert, without any ex- 
aggeration or undue partisanship, that the Emperor 
wrought miracles, showing throughout a pluck, a deter- 
mination, and a devotion quite unequalled, excepting by 
his own self when, in 1862, the great, blue Danube, that 
marvellous stream possessing such savage grandeur, such 
semi-Oriental charm and beauty, burst its boundaries and 
swept away many lives from the lower portions of Vien- 
na, and completely swamped the beautiful Brigittenau 
meadows in the vicinity of the " Kaiserstadt " ; and, also, 
when, in 1879, Szegedin, the old Turkish stronghold and 
the second town of Hungary, was almost entirely de- 
stroyed by the Theiss in flood. 

On this latter occasion I was myself present, and well 
do I remember how the Emperor threw himself into the 

158 




EMPKROR FRANCIS-JOSEPH IX HIS ROBES OF STATE 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

work, how he toiled night and day, enduring most wear- 
ing fatigues and privations, and hourly risking his life 
with the greatest possible unconcern. 

Always where the danger was greatest, continually 
going to and fro under crumbling walls and tottering 
buildings in a little boat that he often rowed himself 
through the yellow flood-water, he rescued a number of 
doomed people with his own hands, and under the ever- 
falling rains which discolored and soaked his undress uni- 
form, and drenched him to the skin, he dosed sick women 
and children with quinine, wine, and meat -juice brought 
as close as possible to the destroyed city by his yacht, and 
moved about in an atmosphere rendered fetid by float- 
ing corpses and the carcasses of dead animals, with a 
patience, a cheerfulness, and ever-present self-oblivion 
which did more to revive the faltering hearts of the 
wretched, homeless, starving creatures around him than 
anything else could have done. 

Nothing irritated him then or at least he displayed 
not the faintest sign of impatience when the igno- 
rance, poltroonery, or obstinacy of the countless low- 
class Jews, who had inhabited Szegedin, made his task 
a really exasperating one, and the admiration he in- 
spired in those who watched, and, in a small, humble 
way, tried to second him, is as deep and strong to-day 
as it was twenty years ago. 

Indeed, that section of Hungary which had in 1849 
fought against him with so fierce and terrible a hatred, 
owes this Fits de Preux a heavy debt, for he made a 
promise, subsequently kept to the full, of rebuilding 
Szegedin "finer than it ever had been before " ; and when 
at last he left them, the river having retreated rapidly 
and all matters of primary importance having been at- 
tended to de main de mattre, there were not a few of 
the elder generation who felt shamed and humbled 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

before this grave, weary, careworn man, who had so 
literally rendered them good for evil, and that in the 
grandest acceptation of the word. 

Scores and scores of human beings owed their lives to 
his intrepidity, and their subsequent fortunes to his 
generosity, for he saw to everything himself, discussed 
ways and means to reconstruct the town, made all ar- 
rangements for the general relief of thousands, person- 
ally read the official estimates of the losses sustained, 
wrote, calculated, glanced through endless reports, and 
finally with his own hand drew up a plan by which 
the recreant river could best be restrained in the fut- 
ure, and that with all the knowledge of a specialist. 

I will never forget his farewell to the survivors of 
the Szegedin disaster. All those strong enough to stand 
on their feet crowded around him, lifting their voices in 
passionate praise of him, and trying to kiss the edge of 
his long military coat, now faded and frayed by con- 
tinual contact with slimy water and debris. 

The boat which was to convey him to his yacht ran 
through the fog-laden dusk and stopped at the foot of 
a corner of the bastions spared by the fury of the ele- 
ments upon which he stood, and the splash of the oars 
warned him that the time of departure had arrived. A 
smile was on his lips, and I am not at all ready to assert 
that there was not a tell-tale moisture in his kind blue 
eyes, as the crowd about him raised a trembling Eljen 
of gratitude and homage. 

I could not at that moment help murmuring some- 
thing to the effect that he should, indeed, be proud and 
happy on this occasion, whereupon this extraordinary 
man replied, quite simply and gravely: 

"Pour quoi done? J'ai fait si peu!" ("Why that? 
I did so little!") 

I must confess that I looked away for a while from 

160 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

the Soldier- Monarch, well proven and war-worn, who 
had wrought so untiringly and splendidly that his quiet 
repudiation of praise was something almost pathetic, 
and that irrepressible tears rose to my eyes. 

The fancy fairs, the amateur circus performances, the 
gorgeous lotteries which the Viennese aristocracy sub- 
sequently organized for the benefit of "poor, ruined 
Szegedin" seemed terribly paltry and meretricious after 
this, well meant and splendid as they were; but, in emu- 
lation of the harmless dove and sagacious serpent, I pre- 
served a discreet silence, donned silks and laces in the 
sacred cause of charity when occupying the azure and 
silver booth where I sold flowers and fruit with praise- 
worthy patience and enormous thrift, slipped into hunt- 
ing pink to display the prowess of my bay stallion " Fleur 
de Roy" to the most patrician and bejewelled audience 
in Europe, took turns with the fascinating Countess 
Ugarte in leaping hurdles and five-barred gates, and 
applauded Pauline Metternich's Stance de prestidigi- 
tation enthusiastically, always with the same admirable 
object in view; but still all this entrancing glitter made 
me only think the more of the dull, gray, flooded 
stretches in and about the wrecked town I had so lately 
left, and of that one manly, stalwart figure, doing far 
more for the wretched survivors, with quiet, unemotional 
and unerring magnanimity, than all this empty, though 
remunerative, frivolity could ever achieve. 

But to go back! On the i8th of February, 1853, all 
Europe was aroused to amazement and indignation 
by the dastardly attempt of one Joseph Libenyi, a 
tailor's assistant from the little Hungarian town of 
Stuhlweissenburg, to assassinate the young Emperor- 
King. 

Several have since been made by other hands, but 
that date is not yet forgotten in Austria, and its mere 
161 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

mention rouses the impulsive loyal -souled Viennese 
to imprecations of rage. 

What insane desire of notoriety, what mad lust of 
blood, had prompted this otherwise cowardly brute, or 
was it merely that evil leaven, that poisonous venom, 
which, working among the people, begets anarchists, 
Nihilists, and demagogues, and which, without warning, 
had gone to his weak, stupid, sartorial head, making 
him eager to strike down the supremely successful and 
dearly beloved Monarch he had not so much as even 
seen from afar previous to that fateful day. 

A fit representative, this Libenyi, of a class of peo- 
ple who continually rave about oppression and the 
wrongs they are made to endure, while they beat their 
wives to make them work the harder, and send their 
anaemic little children to the sweat-shop; who loudly 
clamor for the "rights of man," each one meaning there- 
by a wider scope for his own low impulses, and who 
spend their evil lives yelling sedition in drinking saloons, 
plotting murders, or rolling, dead-drunk, in the gutter, 
in order to conclusively demonstrate and emphasize 
their fitness for equality with all that is best and noblest. 

Swift has rightly said that to call a man ungrateful 
is to sum up all the evil of which he can be guilty. Had 
an Italian it is generally Italians, I believe, who per- 
petrate such deeds been the Emperor's assailant, no 
great surprise, especially at that time, would have been 
evinced, but for one of the subjects of this great, kind, 
and eminently just man to raise his hand against him 
was ingratitude indeed. 

At midday the Emperor, who had as usual already 
done seven hours' hard work with his secretaries and his 
Flugel-Adjudant dictating, annotating, reading reports, 
and signing state papers (for indolence or even mere 
leisure is a thing the untiring, unsparing, over- con - 

162 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

scientious Monarch never indulges in), swallowed his 
frugal lunch invariably served on a corner of his writ- 
ing-desk and despatched in five minutes rang for his 
coat and cap, and walked out with Colonel Count Maxi- 
milian O'Donnell, his Flugel-Adjudant, for his daily 
"constitutional" on the inner bastions. 

There was but little noise and movement in the 
neighborhood of the Hofburg at this hour, which, in 
those days, was that very generally set for dinner, 
when they stepped past the saluting sentries at a side 
entrance, and marched off briskly towards the Kdrntner- 
thor. It was a chill winter afternoon, and the two tall, 
soldierly figures, both wearing undress uniforms and 
long military overcoats, stood sharply profiled against 
the pale, misty gray of the rasping atmosphere as they 
stopped for a minute to glance at some newly begun 
repairs of the bastion beneath their feet. 

At that moment a man, with a face stupidly brutal 
in its lineaments and its dogged, sullen expression, sprang 
upon the Emperor from behind, and Count O'Donnell's 
eye caught the flash of a long, pointed knife. For a 
fleeting instant the Count gazed at the assailant blankly, 
and almost paralyzed with horror, then, with a bound, 
he threw himself upon him and hurled him backwards, 
but, his foot slipping on the frozen pavement, they 
crashed together to the ground. The Count, putting 
out all his strength, forced his antagonist down and 
knelt upon his chest, striking at him furiously with 
his clenched fist, for he was nearly beside himself at 
the spectacle he had just witnessed. The knife had 
fallen from the would-be murderer's hand, and he fought 
like a wild beast to regain it, but it lay too far from 
their writhing, closely entwined bodies, and presently, 
with a clever twist of the wrist, the Flugel-Adjudant 
managed to unsheath his sword. Vainly he tried to 

163 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

use its razor-like blade without letting his adversary 
slip from his grasp, and quite unheeding a curiously 
weak voice, which he heard but did not comprehend, 
monotonously repeating, " Put away your sword, O'Don- 
nell; put away your sword." 

Fortunately, at this moment, a passer-by, attracted 
by the turmoil, ran swiftly up, and catching Libenyi 
by his long, greasy, unkempt hair, banged his head 
several times violently against the ground, a course of 
action which had the very natural effect of putting an 
immediate end to the fight, for Libenyi, who had cut 
his hands severely in grasping the sword, was not proof 
against this new and yet severer punishment, and momen- 
tarily lost consciousness. 

A score of people were now rushing from all sides to 
the spot, and Count O'Donnell, jumping to his feet, 
hastened to the Emperor's side ; but, to his terror, he saw 
that the latter was staggering, and that a thin stream 
of blood, slowly welling out from the back of his neck, 
had made a broad, rapidly increasing stain on his coat, 
between the shoulders. 

"Sind Mafestdt verwundetf" exclaimed the appalled 
Flugel-Adjudant, throwing his arm about his Imperial 
master, and looking searchingly at the livid face before 
him. Then, turning to those who held Libenyi, he cried, 
fiercely, "Kill the brute! kill the brute!" 

Libenyi, who meanwhile had recovered consciousness, 
and who saw that the death he had wished to deal to 
another was now nigh unto himself which is quite 
another affair gazed up at the Emperor with wild, 
passionate appeal, his whole frame shivering, his limbs 
growing powerless and giving under him like those of 
a drunken man when he was put on his feet, and cried, 
hoarsely, " Have mercy on me! O, God! have mercy on 
me!" 

164 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Francis- Joseph, dizzy and weak from loss of blood, 
disengaged himself from his rescuer's arms, and with 
his own kindly smile, just then a little wan, said, gently, 
" Do not hurt him; he has been badly mauled already." 

The crowd cheered vociferously at this characteristic 
display of magnanimity, and would have escorted him 
in triumph had he not moved off then, leaning heav- 
ily upon Count O'Donnell, and proceeded slowly to 
Archduke Albrecht's palace, only a few hundred yards 
distant, motioning his enthusiastic subjects to stand 
back, and even refusing to let a carriage be fetched. 
As the two walked away, blood-stained and mud-be- 
spattered, the Emperor murmured, in allusion to the 
many recent murders of Austrian soldiers by the people 
in the streets of Milan, "Jetzt geht's mir wie meinen 
armen Soldaten in Mailand!" (Now I've been served 
like my poor soldiers in Milan.) 

O'Donnell was shaking from head to foot, for he knew 
well that the wound must be a dangerous one to thus 
prostrate so strong and stout-hearted a man, and he 
could not help crying out: "By God! Sire, you should 
not have spared this fiend!" 

The wounded Emperor was by then far too weak, 
however, to remonstrate or even reply, and fainted away 
as soon as he reached his uncle's residence. Physicians 
were, of course, immediately summoned, but long ere 
they arrived the faithful O'Donnell, fearing that the 
wound might be poisoned, had sucked it free of all pos- 
sibility of venom. 

It was, indeed, a very narrow escape which Francis- 
Joseph had just had, for the blow would undoubtedly 
have been fatal had not Count O'Donnell's quick action 
caused the knife to swerve and be partly arrested by the 
buckle of the Emperor's military cravat, thus prevent- 
ing any more serious consequences than the infliction 

'65 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

of a deep flesh wound, and a consequent heavy hemor- 
rhage. 

When an hour later, Archduchess Sophia heard of his 
accident as she sat in the spacious study where she wove 
her fine political nets, and from whence she kept her wary 
eyes those brilliant, falcon-like orbs which could often 
detect what a phalanx of ministers failed to observe 
upon every corner of her son's immense Empire, she sum- 
moned the Chief of Police to her side, and gave him in- 
structions which filled even this hardened and well-sea- 
soned functionary with awe. 

From that day on, moreover, she became sterner, more 
severe, and more disposed than ever to make, as the 
French say, " a pair of gloves out of the skin of her most 
loyal and devoted friend," for the son she had so nearly 
lost had he expressed a wish for so unique and unpleas- 
ant a hand covering. 

She was really constructed of splendidly tempered 
steel, this amazing Archduchess, and toiled none the less 
now, in the days of her success, than she had done when 
wrenching the crown from Ferdinand to place it on the 
head of its present wearer; nor was she a whit less 
punctual, careful or methodical. Indeed everything she 
undertook was done with a conscientious thoroughness, 
none the less complete because its far-sighted motive 
was her son's aggrandizement instead of her own, for 
truly she loved him a million more times than herself. 

Her gratitude towards Count O'Donnell was naturally 
without limit, and she made a point of treating him 
henceforth as a member of the family, inviting him con- 
stantly to luncheon and dinner at the Hofburg, Schon- 
brunn or wherever else the Court might happen to so- 
journ, declaring, moreover, to whom it might or might 
not concern, that she would never again feel that the 
Emperor was safe from danger excepting when he, 

166 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Count O'Donnell, was at his side. She also presented 
him with a circlet of superb brilliants, containing a lock 
of the Emperor's hair, stained with the blood which 
Libenyi's dagger had caused to flow, and on the inside 
of which was engraved, "Gott vergelte es Dir!" (God 
reward you!) 

Indeed, she spoke and wrote so continually of her 
debt of gratitude to him, that, besides the cross of a 
Commander of the Leopold Order conferred upon him 
by Francis- Joseph, he received decorations from almost 
all the other reigning Sovereigns of Europe, and a manu- 
propria letter from the King of Prussia, which has 
since become historical. 

It would be impossible here to describe the festivities 
which marked the marvellous preservation of the Em- 
peror throughout Austria, the music, the laughter, the 
glitter, the illuminations, the salvoes of artillery, the 
wreaths of flowers, and the floating banners decorating 
the streets and thoroughfares of gay, light-hearted, 
enthusiastic Vienna; or even the laying of the first 
stone of that magnificent fane, Heiland's (Votiv-) Kirche, 
which was consecrated during the fetes celebrating the 
silver wedding of Francis-Joseph and Elizabeth in 1879, 
and which raises so proudly its lace -like twin spires, 
upon the very spot where the greatest and best Ruler of 
Austro- Hungary so nearly came to a tragic end. I re- 
gret to state, in conclusion of this incident, that, far from 
being grateful for all the demonstrations which were 
made on account of his " quasi-assassination " as he 
insisted on laughingly denominating it Francis-Joseph 
ended by losing his temper pretty thoroughly, and by 
forbidding the subject to be mentioned again, under 
penalty of his most emphatic displeasure. 

The whole entourage was, as a matter of fact, convulsed 
with laughter, about three months after the murderous 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

attack upon the Emperor, at what befell one of the 
Ambassadors accredited to the Court of Vienna, who, 
having been absent at the time, believed himself obliged 
to present to Francis-Joseph himself at the first oppor- 
tunity his effusive congratulations upon "the auspicious 
termination of this abominable attempt." 

It chanced that the Emperor happened to be engaged 
in the innocent pastime of tossing bread-crumbs to the 
white peacocks of the Schonbrunn Park when the diplo- 
mat in question respectfully approached to tender those 
hateful words of felicitation, heard so wearisomely often, 
and now, since some weeks, so strictly interdicted. 

The young Monarch, who was facing away from the 
advancing Excellency, remained unconscious of his 
presence until the breaking of a tiny twig made him 
start and turn about. 

A demi-gala dejeuner had just ended, one of those 
splendid affairs which were of amazing heaviness before 
the Sovereign always as frugal as an Arab turned 
his attention to the reform of the Court menus, and the 
Ambassador, slightly flushed with good cheer, was in con- 
sequence all the more disposed to favor-currying effusion. 

"Your Majesty," quoth he, pompously, waving his 
plump hands "Your Majesty has been but lately almost 
snatched from our midst by an unprincipled monster! 
Would to heaven that such foul individuals were once 
and for all eliminated from the world, that a life so irre- 
placeable should never again stand in danger!" 

"Why distress one's soul with vain wishes?" asked the 
Emperor, gazing at the diplomat with speculative eyes, 
in which, however, shone an underglow of mischievous 
amusement. " Besides, poor Libenyi was hardly a mon- 
ster. It was in his nature, no doubt, to make a fool 
of himself; he was born so, and had no chance but to 
fulfil his destiny." 

168 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

The Ambassador frowned incomprehension. 

"Your Majesty actually defends him?" half wonder- 
ing, half reproachful. 

"Oh, dear, no," disclaimed his Imperial host; "I don't 
defend him; I defend nobody. I merely recognize and 
accept the ways of the world, the distinction existing 
between the higher and lower strata between the 
snatchers and the almost snatched! The war is uni- 
versal, and the trifling incident Your Excellency so kindly 
refers to is but a miniature presentment of what is going 
on everywhere in earth and sky." 

"Your Majesty!" exclaimed the astounded Ambassa- 
dor, pulling a long face, "sees the universe through black 
spectacles, I am afraid." 

"Not at all," answered the Monarch. "Regicides 
which is using a tall word for a very small offender in 
this particular instance are generally content with 
making a horrid disturbance which in their class re- 
dounds to their credit; this variety of snatchers knows 
the joy of being passionately admired and advocated, 
but they are poor devils, after all, who do not always get 
the bread-crumbs they covet and would rend from the 
almost snatched, as do, for instance, those royal birds 
yonder," and he cast the few remaining morsels to the 
anxious peacocks. 

The diplomat arched his brows until they almost 
touched the fringe of steel-gray hair adorning his high, 
bland forehead. Clearly he was offended and sorely 
puzzled. 

"I dare not presume to follow Your Majesty on the 
field of debate, but all the same I trust that Your Majesty 
does not seriously excuse the ghastly deeds which have 
from time immemorial disfigured the pages of history." 

"I hope not," the Emperor said gravely, with the 
same twinkle of merriment underlying his seriousness. 

169 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

"But the snatcher here below is ubiquitous and eternal, 
he is likewise protean, and often changes his visible form. 
Sometimes he is an ugly, brown -faced, greasy -haired 
Libenyi, sometimes he is a florid and pompous official, 
sometimes again a trusted and familiar courtier, and 
by no means necessarily a regicide, but he is always 
about, ever present and constantly on the snatch about 
the throne." 

There was so fine and misleading an admixture of 
mockery and gravity on the Imperial face that the Am- 
bassador felt nonplussed; moreover, he was a Teuton, 
and the Teuton conception of sarcasm, irony, or what is 
merely a harmless joke, differs by a very wide span from 
anybody else's. 

"All the same, I would call it uncommonly hard fortune 
to be born what Your Majesty calls a snatcher, an ap- 
pellation which I crave permission to find somewhat 
vague." 

"Vague!" cried the Emperor, raising his eyes appeal- 
ingly towards the blue sky; " I meant it to be vague, and 
by no means otherwise; Your Excellency's rendering of 
the word is a complete surrender to my contention. Did 
I not say that the snatcher was protean, a snatcher of life, 
of honors, of favors, of Ah! snatchers are indigenous 
to the steps of a throne and ineradicable from its vicin- 
ity! But what hath all this in common with white 
peacocks, flowery corbeilles, and green lawns?" he con- 
cluded, dramatically, pointing to the sunny gardens, the 
high, bending trees, with the glorious sunlight of the 
late afternoon caught in the green -gold network of 
their myriad leaves; and seeing the doubtful, almost re- 
proachful moiti sel, moitit vinaigre expression of the 
Ambassador's countenance, he concluded with his ordi- 
nary kind smile, from which all trace of mockery had 
now disappeared. "Ah! Monsieur V Ambassadeur , you 

170 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

have received no better than you deserve; let me im- 
press upon Your Excellency once for all that I do not 
include you, to whom Imperial favor goes voluntarily 
and naturally, in my nomenclature; therefore, let us 
hence to see my black swans; we will try them with 
some crumbs, too!" 

This conversation is still cited as a proof of the Em- 
peror's hatred for flattery, even at that time. 



CHAPTER VII 

WHAT woman living would have seemed to Arch- 
duchess Sophia worthy of becoming the wife of her Im- 
perial son, a proud position in any one's eyes certain- 
ly, but in his mother's of whom the world said that she 
was fond of imagining the universe created solely that it 
might have the honor of serving as his pedestal an ab- 
solutely unequalled one ; yet she knew that the time was 
now at hand when he really ought to marry. She had a 
most ardent desire to see the Habsburg dynasty contin- 
ued in the person of a grandson ; but still she was very 
clearly aware that his marriage would be to her nothing 
short of a torture, which, for a person priding herself on 
a quite remarkable consistency, was assuredly curious. 

She was too frank with herself not to realize also that 
she would hate, positively hate, the most charming of 
marriageable Princesses as soon as her name was even so 
much as coupled with that of her son Franz, and her 
burning sense of proprietorship, her bitter jealousy rose 
in arms with increasing violence on each separate occa- 
sion when she thought of this dread necessity looming 
upon her horizon. 

One may also add that any girl destined to become 
Archduchess Sophia's daughter-in-law, even did she pos- 
sess the beauty of Helen, the wisdom of Minerva, the 
fidelity of Penelope, the virtues of St. Martha, and the 
genius of St. Cecilia, would need also the dauntlessness 
of a Joan of Arc, for her lot could, come what happened, 
be no enviable one. 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

The laws of marriage are constructed upon absurd lines, 
and that is why the sacrament Holy Mother Church 
very rashly declares it to be a sacrament heralds as an 
almost general rule a lamentable and universal failure. 
Connubial bliss is not a thing to be obtained by personal 
ingenuity or retained by mere obedience to precept or 
to duty. It is the most rare and the most spontaneous 
thing on earth, born only of the sympathies of two nat- 
ures mutually sympathetic, and can no more be forced 
than durable happiness of any sort can be created at 
will. 

And here I have come to the most difficult part of my 
task, for in my first humble literary effort l I have de- 
scribed at such length the matrimonial misunderstand- 
ings of Francis-Joseph and Elizabeth, and so clearly laid 
the blame thereof where blame was due, that to go once 
more over that thoroughly beaten track would be, I fear, 
unjust to my readers. But I am so continually accused 
of not seeing as the world sees, that none will be surprised 
when I repeat here that it would have been far, far better 
for the "White Rosebud of Possenhofen" had she never 
worn the crown placed upon her graceful head by her 
Imperial lover, when his passionate admiration for her 
exquisite face and form, her youth and her innocence, 
transformed, like the wand of Prospero, her simple, pleas- 
urable life into the gorgeous, shining magnificence of an 
Empress's jewelled existence. 

In the mere child, fresh from the dews and fragrant 
breezes of her forest home, who cared for flowers and 
birds, for horses and dogs, more than for anything else, 
this Prince Charming discerned the adorable patrician 
beauty of the future and rested not till he made it his 
own; but when, bewildered, afraid, and yet unutterably 

1 The Martyrdom of an Empress. 
'73 



happy, she let her little hand fall into his, she gave away 
with it, had she but known it, all hope of peace and of 
happiness, for few were the days of her joy and wearily 
long those of her many sorrows. 

Whoever has lived in the intimacy of Empress Eliza- 
beth cannot but do full justice to the generosity, the 
tenderness, and the ever-solicitous gentleness of her hus- 
band, and must, in explanation of his share in the causes 
of her sorrows, refer those who do not understand to di- 
vergence of character, the exigencies of life on a throne, 
and as minor factors his pursuit of new passions; but 
be all this as it may, even when the first unreasoning 
delight of the honeymoon had become tempered by 
time, her love, so pure and so tenacious, her splendid 
constancy, would have won the battle had it not been 
for that one implacable, dogged opponent, her hus- 
band's mother. 

The modern girl, it must be confessed, is a little too 
ftamberge au vent in her ideas and attitudes, and is, there- 
fore, quite unable to understand all that this peerless 
bride felt of bewilderment, shyness, and apprehension in 
the presence of the sovereign state which had descended 
on her with such startling suddenness and splendor. It 
is consoling, however, to think that she would be more 
fitted than was Elizabeth to cope with the ungovernable 
passion for interference of a jealous mother-in-law! 

This lady's unconquerable love of authority governed 
the young Empress's destiny from the first, for, like 
many other women of excessive energy and exclusive 
attachments, she could not resign herself to abdicate 
even a tithe of her power and dominion over her son, 
and her incessant rebukes, reproaches, criticisms, and 
expostulations to both husband and wife increased the 
evil day by day, which, like a river widening from its 
narrow source to a broad estuary, separated more and 

174 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

more widely those two fond, foolish young people whose 
skies would otherwise have probably been cloudless. 

Each of her mother-in-law's cross words and cutting 
hints went to Elizabeth's heart as the stab of a lacerat- 
ing knife, and one day, when long after all this was a 
thing of the past, and the wilful Archduchess had for 
over five years been laid at rest, I ventured to ask the 
Empress why she had not resisted her influence more 
strenuously and used her otherwise strong will to retain 
her own, she replied, sadly: 

"Ah, my dear, you do not know what a clever, clever 
woman she was, and how deeply she could hurt with a 
look or a word of unkind meaning, how unbearable was 
her constant suspicion of my every motive or action! 
From the moment I married she set herself against me, 
which was quite enough, in those days of her unquestion- 
ed omnipotence, to condemn irrevocably any one, even 
the Empress. Towards her son her honesty of purpose 
cannot be questioned, even by me, although her methods 
were sometimes curiously misleading and singularly un- 
scrupulous too. I know she really believed that I was 
an obstacle on his road to absolute pre-eminence, and 
that I would take up too much of the time she had de- 
creed that he should devote to statecraft. Moreover, 
her dislike of me was stronger than her candor or sense 
of justice, her prejudices greater even than her ordinarily 
very sincere regard for truth. Then, also, she had the 
power of swaying him at will in most things, a power 
which she exercised with contemptuous indifference to 
all my claims and rights, and her wrath was so bitter 
at having been momentarily eclipsed in his affections, 
that at times I think she was scarcely sane on the 
subject. I have tried since her death to do her fuller 
justice than I could force myself to do while still she 
was my mentor, traducer, and bitterest enemy. She 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

was, I cannot but own, a magnificent woman, in a hard 
and superb way hard in the downward curve of her 
well-drawn lips, in the beauty of her large, relentless, 
defiant eyes, hard in her skilful, clever management of 
everybody, hard in her ambitions and even in her few af- 
fections; nay, hard in her whole make-up, with the hard- 
ness of rock-crystal, which neither heat nor cold can alter, 
and you can believe me when I tell you that no force 
on earth could drag her from a position she had once 
decided to occupy. One of her first reproaches to me, 
and delivered with a contempt I never forgot, was when 
she overheard me explain that when yachting I some- 
times hung for hours over the side, because I was sure 
of some day catching sight of a mermaid under the 
waves adorned with pink sea-shells and crowned with 
pale-tinted sea anemones! I was but seventeen then, 
and yet for years afterwards she continued to taunt 
me with what she called my 'apt illustrations of faith,' 
and made a point of asking me often, a brule pour point, 
when I intended to come down to the realities of actual, 
every-day existence and cease to ride the broomstick 
of illusion! She was not easy to mollify, I assure you; 
even those who found grace before her eyes were never 
allowed to know it, and whenever I complained of 
anything she used to tell me that my life was all prizes 
and no blanks, except now and then the blank of satiety!" 
When this was told me I felt all the disgust of a child- 
less woman for a mother's implacable jealousy, but now 
that I have a tall boy of my own, who in a few short 
years will have reached a marriageable age, God forgive 
me for saying that, although I do not deny the un- 
doubted nobility of renunciation and withdrawal from 
the first place in a son's heart at that painful moment, I 
feel more in sympathy with Archduchess Sophia, such a 
confession being, I suppose, greatly to my shame! This 

176 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

does not, however, diminish by the thickness of a silken 
thread my passionate sympathy for my Empress, but 
still I seriously doubt whether the sense of fair-play 
which I pride myself on possessing would be quite 
proof against the fear of allowing myself to be pushed 
into the background of my son's heart by a girl whose 
only merit would, at least at first, be mere beauty and 
physical charm. 

This, however, not really being a confession, I will 
resume my narrative, gliding as swiftly as possible over 
the exaggeration and invention of the world's judgment 
concerning the gradual estrangement between the Im- 
perial couple, who during forty -four years were the tar- 
get for all the arrows of slander. 

Throughout that long period it was given to but few 
to understand Elizabeth's character, ever childlike in its 
impulses and simplicity, and so unworldly in its esti- 
mates, so altogether above the common level in its lof- 
tiness of principle, in its horror of everything sordid, 
mean, or unclean, that after all it is, perchance, unfair 
to blame the common herd for its inability to compre- 
hend it. 

That her course of action, blameless as it ever was, 
emphasized and darkened her husband's few shortcom- 
ings the shortcomings of a warm heart and a susceptible, 
generous nature was an error on her part which none 
but a very proud, very sensitive woman would have 
made, but it unfortunately gave color to ill-natured 
stories and ground to those conjectures concerning the 
domestic happiness of the Imperial couple, which too 
often laid the fault at her door. 

No one could have suffered more keenly than the 
Emperor when he found that she was so unjustly blamed, 
that all her generosity, her countless, thoughtful, ten- 
der-hearted acts and her extreme nobility of charac- 

ia 177 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ter failed to atone in the eyes of his Court and people 
for her delicate disdain of all that commonplace glitter 
which is covetable to most persons, that she was paying 
heavily for her lack of pliability, her indifference to 
popularity, and that he himself, by mere carelessness 
and too great a subserviency to his mother's counsels, 
had assisted in humbling the proud heart of a woman 
who, by her glorious beauty, by the potent and subtle 
charm of her remarkable intelligence and her unalter- 
able love, exercised over him a sway stronger and more 
enduring than any other. 

Any mother can make her son's life a burden to him 
if she will conscientiously set herself to do it, especially 
when this son marries against her wishes. The young 
husband would be glad to submit to any personal dis- 
comfort for the sake of peace in his household, whether 
it be cottage or palace, but when in the blessed seclusion 
of his family circle he sees the rack and thumbscrew 
system of the dear old Inquisition applied in improved 
and mental modification to his wife, his situation is a 
singularly unenviable one. 

There may be des accommodements avec le del, but 
there are no accommodements possible with a mother- 
in-law determined to do her worst, and perfectly con- 
vinced that she is in the right, and this is why Francis- 
Joseph never interfered when his lovely wife, unable 
to put up any longer with his mother's despotism, would 
go away for a time upon those foreign travels or long 
sojourns abroad which made everybody assert that she 
cared naught for her husband and his Empire, and still 
less for her duties. 

In all his long life Francis-Joseph has been a man of 
unblemished rectitude, who has never given any one the 
right to blame or contemn him in matters of the State or 
of his family honor, but in the conflict of feelings which 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

agitated him in many of his differences with his wife 
and mother, he failed to foresee the innumerable conse- 
quences and miseries to his wife that would arise from 
his neglect to look deeper beneath the surface of her 
easily aroused and umbrageous pride. He did not real- 
ize that her heart, in its indignation, its solitude, its gen- 
eral need of sympathy, became shy of turning too ob- 
viously towards him for consolation. 

Such misunderstandings are fatal, and are apt to 
haunt one when it is all too late to repair them! 

Elizabeth's frequent withdrawals from Court were on 
many an occasion engendered by a feeling that her hus- 
band cared no longer for her, and that he failed to com- 
prehend how she could consider life hard, conventional, 
artificial, and at times hateful ; in which she was for once 
cruelly mistaken, for he, too, shared these impressions 
and feelings many and many a time in those days of 
unceasing and fiery conflict between the two beings he 
loved best in the world. 

There was one scene between Francis-Joseph and Arch- 
duchess Sophia on this subject, of which its only witness 
spoke to me with bated breath nearly a score of years 
later ; for on this single occasion the clash of those two 
powerful natures proved formidable beyond all that can 
be imagined. 

It took place a few years before the Archduchess's 
death, when, with advancing age, weariness and dis- 
satisfaction were beginning to dull her finer qualities, 
and when she more frequently indulged in regrettable 
suggestion about her unfounded suspicions concerning 
Elizabeth, to her over-wrought son. 

Never had he seen his mother so fully aroused and so 
reckless in denunciation as she was on that day, and 
that merely because the Empress had refused to be 
present at the Corpus Christi procession; and yet, never 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 
v 

had the unfortunate Archduchess loved him more pas- 
sionately than at that moment, when she felt in his 
whole attitude the severance of many of the tender ties 
which had bound him so strongly to her, but she was 
pitiless in pursuit of her purpose, quite unchangeable in 
her opinions, and, as ever, absolutely unrelenting in her 
tyrannical meddlesomeness. 

"Is it true!" she exclaimed, angrily, entering unan- 
nounced in her son's study, "that you are going to 
allow your wife to absent herself from Vienna again, 
and that on one of the rare occasions when her presence 
is either necessary or desirable?" 

Though she was an unusually keen-sighted woman, 
it had taken the Archduchess a long time to realize how 
entirely his passion for Elizabeth, when it was permitted 
to assert itself, swept away and replaced her own influ- 
ence, and with every new instance of this, to her, cruelly 
painful truth, she tried with renewed vigor to sap her 
daughter-in-law's intermittent power, by taunts likely 
to arouse the Emperor's dislike of being curbed and 
tied down by any but herself. 

She knew that he had never been reconciled to the 
idea of giving love as a right, also, that the Habs- 
burgs in love or in sport were not wont to tamely sub- 
mit to be relegated to the background, and by suggest- 
ing that Elizabeth led him par le bout du nez, she often 
succeeded in making her interviews with him seriously 
detrimental to his wife. But on this occasion she had 
made a bad beginning, and, controlling with difficulty 
the anger her words aroused, Francis- Joseph said, with 
strange coldness: 

"My wife is not well, and the fatigue of such a func- 
tion under the blazing sun would be too much for her!" 

"Not well? I see that you are her dupe to-day, as 
you have always been; she is no more sick than I am, 

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A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

if you only knew it. No woman who can hunt and 
swim and walk as she does in all weathers is too delicate 
to accomplish so simple a duty as the one now demanded 
of her!" 

"You talk and act as if you were her bitterest enemy, 
my dear mother. You are equally discontented with 
her whatever she does or leaves undone. God knows 
that I would not willingly say a word to pain you, for 
you have to me been an angel of goodness and forbear- 
ance, but to my poor little girl you are positively un- 
just, if you will pardon me for saying so, and who- 
ever hints a word against her hurts me deeply by so 
doing!" 

"I cannot pretend what I do not feel, and it is im- 
possible for those who have your interests at heart to 
admire the whimsical wax-doll you have been foolish 
enough to marry!" she replied, furiously. 

"Look here, mother!" he cried, passionately, "you 
are horribly unjust; you are, indeed! you have never 
ceased to be pitiless in your dealings with "Lieschen," or 
in your efforts to alienate me from her; you speak 
against her without mercy; you constantly drag her 
down, dishearten her, inform her of my lapses of loyalty 
towards herself you who should be her stanchest 
friend and my severest critic on such occasions since 
you know my many failings, for nothing escapes you!" 

The Emperor loved his mother tenderly and rever- 
entially, but he had long ere this become aware that in 
her relations towards her daughter-in-law she had not 
displayed her usual wisdom, and that in her prejudiced 
interference between himself and his young wife she had 
been extremely ill-advised. To himself, nevertheless, 
she had, indeed, been a devoted mother, entering into 
all his troubles and tribulations since the beginning 
of his arduous reign, just as she had when he was a 

181 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

boy entered into all his sports and amusements, his 
small sorrows and his petty vexations. 

A mother who has contrived to be almost always at 
her son's side when he came to close quarters with life's 
temptations, sins, virtues, pains, and pleasures, and all 
its other awful or wonderful realities, cannot be indiffer- 
ent to his matrimonial relations; it would be asking 
too much. She had trained him in honor and truth, 
stimulating his already remarkable energy, instead 
of repressing and dwarfing him as so many tender 
mothers do, in order to keep their hold longer upon their 
dear ones. She had put him to sleep when he was a 
baby by telling him stories of chivalric deeds and of 
courtly men in hauberk and corselet, in velvet and point- 
lace, who all had made their names famous by their 
contempt for danger, their heroic daring, their un- 
blemished sense of honor, and the consequence of all 
this was that always ere this day her words had carried 
more weight with him than anybody else's. This new 
and entirely unexpected attitude on his part cut her, 
therefore, to the very heart, but she was not disposed 
to let him see this, and so she merely smiled slightly a 
bitter, contemptuous smile. 

She was not bund to the fact that he looked remark- 
ably gallant and handsome with his steady, blue eyes 
bent grimly upon her, his mouth set as sternly as her own 
in his chivalric defence of his absent wife, and this led 
her to think what a pity it was that such a man should 
be wasted upon a mere pretty, capricious woman, which 
was her most lenient verdict against Elizabeth. 

"I never expected," she said, icily, "to see you satis- 
fied with being chained down in dull, tyrannical domes- 
ticity!" 

His face grew white with anger and his eyes gleamed, 
but she took no notice of these threatening signs, and 

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A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

calmly continued: "You married in the mad passion 
of an unguarded hour, for the sake of a few weeks' de- 
light, for what is vulgarly called 'eye-love' you who 
were born inconstant, as are all the Habsburgs, by- 
the-way, and soon the fetters so readily and enthusi- 
astically assumed galled you. You went through the 
usual period of wrangling and reproaches, you who were 
least fitted of all men I ever knew to endure such an 
ordeal. You know as well as I do that your early 
judgment of your wife was crude, and how quickly the 
glamour of your coup de tete faded in the test of constant 
intercourse, nor can you deny that you have not found 
in her what your heart and mind expected to find!" 

Twice he tried to interrupt her, which was entirely 
foreign to his ordinary extreme courtesy and reverence 
of manner to her, but with a peremptory wave of her 
slender hand she silenced him. 

" I love you too dearly not to feel utterly wretched at 
the shipwreck of your Hie or at the false light in which 
it makes you stand. Elizabeth twirls you around her 
little finger, makes you do what she likes, and obliges 
you to yield to her every caprice, not because you love 
her still very greatly, but, on the contrary, because, being 
tired of her, you wish to make up in indulgence what you 
lack in passion!" 

This was a perfidious stroke, a veritable coup de 
Jarnac, and the Emperor threw back his head impa- 
tiently, like a mettlesome charger about to take the bit 
between his teeth, but as before the impassive Arch- 
duchess gave him no time for interruption. 

"You need not look indignant! The price of marry- 
ing a beauty is often very much above that of rubies, 
but you did not know that when you threw over the im- 
measurably superior elder sister for her big-eyed, white- 
skinned, auburn - locked junior. I, however, realized 

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A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

how it would be with you, on that night when you 
waltzed so madly with Elizabeth, whirling her round 
like a baby, whispering in her ear, and crushing the 
Maiglockchen of her shoulder bouquet against your breast 
in the senseless infatuation which had seized you. From 
that moment you threw all prudence to the winds ; you 
delivered yourself bound hand and foot into her hands ; 
you forgot your future, my warnings, anything, every- 
thing, in the momentary delirium, which made you 
see life with her ' couleur de rose.' Alas, with such prem- 
ises my prophesies were certain to come true, and 
they have! Your wife is exceedingly beautiful, unde- 
niably so, but I look in vain for any sterling qualities in 
her, for one saving point of unselfishness or obedience 
to your wishes or to the exigencies of her high estate!" 

She laughed a low, bitter laugh that broke strangely 
upon his ear, and very quietly, but with teeth set hard, 
he answered: 

"Even you, mother, must not speak in that manner 
to me. Elizabeth is as worthy of respect and admira- 
tion as yourself, and she shall never be mentioned other- 
wise before me!" 

"Respect! admiration! comme vous y allez! A wom- 
an who will accept but the gilded and jewelled side 
of her bargain, who shows consideration for nobody, 
refuses to accomplish a single one of her duties as Em- 
press, as mother, or as wife; really, this is asking rather 
too much!" 

" Nevertheless, it must be so! I ought to have made 
the fact plainer to you sooner, and now I tell you that 
I intend to exact in the future for my wife that respect 
which, thanks to my fear of hurting your feelings, has 
not always been shown to her!" 

The Archduchess rose, pale with astonishment. 

" Does my life-long devotion to your interests count for 

184 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

so little that you dare to speak thus to me, your mother? 
Do you choose now to forget all my affection, my un- 
wearing exertions, all I have done, for the sake of a 
woman of whom, I repeat it, you are heartily tired in 
spite of her pretty face and seductive coquetries?" 

He gave her a look which made even her feel that for 
once she had gone too far. 

"I trust that I will never be base enough to forget 
what you have done for me, ingratitude not being num- 
bered among my vices, but neither will I forget nor for- 
give what you have just said, nor the harshness, in the 
mask of justice, the vexatious authority, and the cruel 
animosity you have untiringly displayed against your 
innocent daughter-in-law ! And now, permit me to leave 
you ; I do not wish to pursue a discussion which can only 
inflict humiliation and sorrow upon us both, since for the 
first time in my life I am forced to resent what you say 
as a dishonor done to myself and to what is dearest to 
me!" 

He bowed low, and left her, mortified, worsted, impotent 
in her rage and disappointment, but obliged to recog- 
nize that there had been even less wisdom than usual 
in her interference upon this unfortunate occasion. 

She sat for a few minutes as one who has been dealt 
a heavy blow and is unable as yet to realize it ; then she 
descended the stairs, where the moon streamed through 
painted windows across the broad, crimson - carpeted 
steps and the exquisitely wrought balustrade, towards 
her private apartments. 

She went slowly, wearily, as if she dragged her dead 
ambitions with her; her face was very white, her steps 
reluctant, her heart heavy as lead, for she had the 
ghastly impression of having said an eternal farewell to 
the Franz of other days, and of having destroyed the old 
sweet intimacy which had endured so long between them. 

185 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

As she reached her room her stern features suddenly 
relaxed and softened, and her eyes were filled with un- 
speakable yearning. Hereafter there would be, if she 
judged rightly, an immense loss, an unfilled void through- 
out her remaining life, and tenderness and bitterness 
strove together in her soul, for she had in the last hour 
cruelly suffered in her passions and in her indomitable 
pride. Her son, her own beloved Franz, had judged 
and condemned her; his wife, whom she hated, had con- 
demned her also; nay, she even she had just con- 
demned herself. What was there now left to live for? 
Deeply perplexed and troubled, she was profoundly 
humiliated and unspeakably hurt, yet the fairness which 
was in her nature, beneath all the egotism of her iron 
self-reliance, at last conquered her terrible sense of 
offence, and she realized that she had much with which 
to reproach herself. 

Poor Archduchess Sophia ! Dreams are for the happy ; 
she would no longer indulge in any, and the one she 
had dreamed so long was now dead, dead as a drowned 
creature lying many fathoms deep at the bottom of the 
sea. For a little while her agony was greater than even 
she had strength to bear; for this last experience had 
been of the kind which strips the heart bare and unveils 
the innermost recesses of the soul, and the wound in- 
flicted was one which would never close. 

The infinite peace of the night seemed to lie like a 
benediction on the immense, silent palace, but she knew 
that in her bruised, weary heart there was no peace 
and never would be more in that heart where but one 
name, her son's, had ever been written; and she wept 
bitterly the burning, inconsolable tears of those whom 
age has already touched with its blighting wand and 
who have but little left to hope for. Once again, never- 
theless, she steeled herself, gathered the remnants of her 

186 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

pride about her, coldly and hardily, and with a strong 
effort of self-control effaced, as she believed, every out- 
ward trace of the tempest which had overborne her, 
ere she reappeared before the partisans and antagonists 
to whom she scorned to betray any emotion. But all 
becomes very swiftly known at Court, and her sufferings 
would not have been lightened had she been aware that 
by night the defeat of Madame Mere was discussed in 
whispers all over the Hofburg. 

How long ago all this took place, and yet how present 
still to the minds of those who witnessed the eighteen- 
year-long struggle between the mother and the wife of 
Francis-Joseph, in those days when the phrase, Vox 
Sophies vox Dei, was a familiar saying at Vienna! 

Are they now reconciled, those rivals, both so dif- 
ferently beautiful and gifted the one, untiring in her 
devotion, and the other, unfaltering in her love the 
imperious mistress of statecraft, who scarcely deigned 
to conceal her power behind the throne, and the noble 
woman who sat upon it, her sweet head bowed beneath 
the weight of her crown? 

Their place knows them no more; they are gone like 
the snows of past winters that have drifted silently 
upon the cloister roofs beneath which, closed in darkness, 
they lie together. "Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?" 

Tell me, sprites of a twilight name, 

Dwelling under what sky of gold 
Is Archippa of antique fame, 

Flora, Thais, of lovely mould? 
Over the evening waters cold, 

Echo, bowered in fern and rose, 
Laugheth low to the question old, 

"Ah! and where are the winter snows?" 

Where is H61oise scorning blame 
All for love of the wise and bold, 
187 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

All for Ab61ard, sunk in shame, 

Shut in Saint Denys' cloistered fold? 

Where the queen at whose mandate rolled 
Seine o'er Buridan's head? There blows 

Far faint answer across the wold, 

"Ah! and where are the winter snows?" 

Lissome Blanchefleur, the siren dame, 

Alys of Le Mans' warrior hold, 
Jeanne alas! to the English flame 

Doomed at Rouen, betrayed and sold, 
Berthe an grand pied of whom is told 

Oft the story in rhyme and prose, 
Where is their beauty enshrined and scrolled? 

"Ah! and where are the winter snows?" 

Live thy day that the Fates have doled 

Lady, lest when the question goes 
Where thou art, be the answer trolled, 

"Ah! and where are the winter snows?" 

M. M. 



CHAPTER VIII 

APRIL agth, 1859! Yet another of those dates which 
should be marked in darkest hue on Emperor Francis- 
Joseph's life-calendar, for again a great tumult sounded 
throughout his Italian provinces, and was borne nearer 
and nearer to the Austrian border, like the roar of a sul- 
lenly surging sea, sending its muffled but ominous echoes 
to far-away Vienna. 

Lombardy and Venetia were athirst for freedom, and 
the tramp of the Austrian army of occupation, ringing 
upon the pavements of their cities, had become unen- 
durable to the sons of those sun-girt lands. 

Victor-Emmanuel of Sardinia, who, more prudent than 
his father had been in 1849, now allied himself with that 
king of adventurers, Napoleon III., took the field 
paradoxical as it sounds as the defender of the Re- 
publican party, and their combined forces of one hundred 
and eighty thousand men came down to confront Aus- 
tria's army, which consisted at the outset of the cam- 
paign of not more than one hundred and ten thousand ! 

Again the flowery plains, the soft, green meadows of 
Lombardy, the deep vine shadows and the sweet moun- 
tain stillness of Tuscany, flecked with the royally blue 
irises of Dante those irises blossoming in such extrava- 
gant profusion in the maize crops and on the olive slopes 
alike again the pearl -hued lagoons of dreamy Venice, 
the poplar and acacia-shadowed Brenta, the golden mil- 
let fields, and narcissus-scented pastures of the Veneto 
were convulsed by the old war-cry, " Vivd la libertd!" 

189 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

and the zest for slaughter which had burned so fiercely 
ten years before broke out with renewed vigor in the 
Austrian as well as the Italian ranks. 

When Francis-Joseph received the news of the defeat 
at Magenta, a terrible bitterness and a wellnigh unen- 
durable pain overcame him. Hardly could he believe 
his senses and realize the extent of this misfortune. 

His wife, his mother, his whole family and entourage 
were amazed and terrified by the unnatural calm and 
the set, repressed anguish which made him look as if he 
had suddenly been changed into stone. 

This shame, netting him tight, was the cruellest suffer- 
ing he had as yet undergone ; even when he had seen the 
small, waxen face of his first-born, Archduchess Sophia's 
tiny namesake, pillowed in the snowy roses of her little 
coffin, his pain had not been so great. 

He was silent, because had he spoken all the courage, 
all the self-control that pride and high-breeding sus- 
tained in him, would have been utterly shattered. 

Another moment given to pull himself together, and 
the chivalrous pride, the resourceful endurance, the 
knightly instinct that were in him flashed into fire and 
leaped into action, and all he felt, all he thought, was 
to fly to the rescue, and to lose his life like the soldier 
and the noble gentleman he was, rather than that in 
his absence his armies should be vanquished. 

The Habsburg blood, that never took well to defeat, 
was aroused now, and the prospect of fighting thrilled 
through him with glad energy, and without another in- 
stant's pause or backward look he determined to take 
over in person the command of his troops. 

Yet his eyes fell sadly upon his young wife, whose 
auburn head nestled upon his shoulder, the fragrance 
of whose lips breathed so near his own, and who at that 
minute would have joyfully given all her Imperial state, 

190 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

her jnatchless jewels, her countless privileges; ah! yes, 
would even readily have shorn off the marvellous tresses 
of which she was so proud, to keep him with her a few 
weeks, a few days longer. 

His voice was low, his smile very gentle, as he tried 
to comfort her; his hand held hers in a tender clasp, 
and she could feel his heart beat loud and quick against 
her own as his lips touched her brow, where she stood 
within the circle of his arms, a nervous shudder running 
through her frame, heavy tears stealing down one by 
one, and falling like dew-drops upon the cluster of vio- 
lets at her breast. 

Archduchess Sophia, although bitterly hurt as usual, 
when not considered first, stood beside them without 
a trace of her customary stern rebuke of manner, and 
on noticing this the Emperor's face lightened with a 
pleasure and a relief that changed it wonderfully, his 
blue eyes darkening and gleaming strangely as a swift 
hope came to him of sweetness and peace, during an 
absence which might last perhaps forever, reigning be- 
tween the two beings dearest to him on earth, and 
replacing the bitter strife or the icy coldness which al- 
ternated between them since five long years. 

Our natures are oddly constructed and oddly incon- 
sistent. Archduchess Sophia hated her daughter-in- 
law, yet it gave her many a bitter pang that she should 
not have turned to her for comfort when the man whom 
they both loved so exclusively and passionately had 
left them alone together, but her social philosophy 
if philosophy it was and her unimpaired imperiousness 
allowed no sign of this curious feeling to escape her, 
even when sleeplessness, anxiety, misery, and the despair 
of such a separation had made Elizabeth look like a 
lovely little white ghost, and when even she, "Sophia 
the Pitiless," pitied her from her very heart. 

191 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Francis-Joseph went straight to Verona. A sorry, 
desolate city during the warring days that followed, and 
which in that hot June seemed drowned in white dust, 
and very dreary, with its lofty, empty houses, its crum- 
bling palazzios, its frightened inhabitants, skulking away 
in terror at the sight of every "white-coat." 

Little, however, did the Emperor notice the dusty 
wretchedness of Juliet's birth-place, the pitiable ravages 
wrought by time, neglect, and plunder, nor its dreary, 
dirty, dismal comfortlessness, for his destiny was rush- 
ing him headlong into a far deeper and more inpene- 
trable gloom than that which obscured those sombre, 
narrow streets and piazzettas, lined with rows of stunted, 
sickly trees, crippled by the simoom-like, scorching wind 
which blows almost constantly from the mountains. 

Heaven forefend that I should attempt to write a 
description of that fateful battle, over whic*h the colors 
of France, Italy, and Austria waved, where Francis- 
Joseph, Victor-Emmanuel, and Napoleon 1 1 1., surrounded 
by the flower of their armies, fought with such deadly 
results that the carnage of that day is still alluded to 
with awe, and during which the combatants grappled 
with such ferocity in hand-to-hand struggle that even 
in the embrace of death the bleeding, exhausted, quiver- 
ing men rolled over each other in such an inextricable 
tangle and confusion that they had to be buried as 
they fell, still clutching one another's throats. 

Those who fought then and survived never quite got 
out of their ears the thunder, the turmoil, the deafening 
roar shaking the very earth with its dreadful echoes 
that they heard that day, nor out of their eyes the look of 
the battle-field of Solferino, packed so closely with dead 
and dying that the blood-soaked ground, crimson and 
noisome, was scarcely visible, the wounded, in horrible 
companionship with the torn and scorched corpses of 

192 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

those killed by the near explosion of shells, writhing in 
torture and shrieking wildly for a help that never came 
to them ! 

Scenes, indeed, to make the strongest man, the bravest 
soldier, reel and stagger with disgust and pity amid the 
hiss and crash and shock of this sanguinary struggle of 
more than three hundred thousand men! 

A devil rose in me every time I heard about it ! alas, in 
my but poorly tamed nature it still rises when I remem- 
ber what my father, who was present, told one day to a 
friend of the heroic fight of Solferino, little guessing that 
crouching behind a curtain I was listening to what nat- 
urally I but barely understood then, yet heard, with my 
little teeth clenched and my baby heart beating hard 
against my ribs at these horrors which had taken place 
three years before ever I was born! 

What a sight it must have been on the morning of that 
decisive day, when the rising sun glittered on a forest of 
lances, sabres, and bayonets, and turned the gay accou- 
trements of the cavalry into a glorious mass of color; 
when the silvery sound of trumpets rang merrily through 
the clear air! 

What a night, when a pitiless, drenching downpour of 
ink-black, smoke-tainted rain soaked through those poor, 
mutilated wretches, heaped up, with twisted limbs and 
distorted faces, like the carcasses of sheep in a slaughter- 
house, under the added misery of that furious storm, 
which followed shot and fire with such awful sudden- 
ness! 

The story of that battle has been oft and well told, and 
none, neither the Italians, the French, nor even the Gari- 
baldians a race apart, since bloodthirstiness and love of 
eternal strife and of anarchy have caused them to take a 
hand in nearly every conflict in which they have been 
allowed to mingle have denied the fact that among 
13 193 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

those splendid fighters of many different nationalities 
none displayed greater courage and sang-froid than the 
young Emperor and generalissimo of the Austrian 
phalanxes. 

Fear was always to him unknown, but on that day his 
courage can be called by no milder name than heroism, 
and the rashness with which he exposed his life filled 
all who were at his side with a sort of awe, for to escape 
without a scratch from such perils, he must, indeed, have 
borne a charmed life. 

But why dwell on the boundless calamity by which 
Francis-Joseph was overtaken! One could write and 
write and write, and yet not convey any adequate idea of 
the hot, angered sense of adverse fate which filled his 
soul throughout that disastrous campaign, and especially 
of the hours of agony he spent at Solferino, watching 
with dry, strained eyes, like one numbed and stupefied, 
the annihilation of his regiments, vainly searching the 
horizon with his field-glasses to the east and west, the 
north and the south, for something in sight that could 
give him aid or hope. 

Idle it is, indeed, to dwell upon so great a grief, so 
deep a humiliation, or to attempt a lengthy mention of 
the despair which finally made him eager to die because 
wellnigh all else but life itself was lost to him, and im- 
pelled him to walk his charger slowly to the front of 
battle under so merciless a hail of fire and shot that all 
those about him were falling in swarms. Yes, walk, 
quite calmly and determinedly, checking at last his 
fretting, terrorized horse with one brutal twist of his 
iron wrist, to stand gazing blindly before him, like a 
man lost in the darkness, too sick at heart, too weary, 
too filled with horrible agony, to ask aught but death 
from the cruelly chastising hand of fate, and yet half 
doubting whether this misery, this burning, degrading 

194 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

humiliation were not, after all, perchance, the mere 
visions of a waking nightmare. 

How the hours that followed this mad attempt to be 
killed, and thus redeem the shame of his defeat, were 
spent, Francis-Joseph could never recall in full. Vague 
memories remained with him of being forced away from 
his untenable position, of seeking, by dint of bodily fa- 
tigue ; to kill at least the torturing thoughts rising in 
him, of watching the lurid light of the setting sun as he 
had done eleven years before at Santa Lucia, but with an 
infinite sense of irreparable loss, of endless calamity upon 
him, which had assuredly not pressed upon his soul in 
those by-gone days of youthful enthusiasm and triumph, 
and of ever and anon being roused to the consciousness 
of the weight of shame which had just rolled in upon 
him like the towering waves of some furious sea that 
sweeps all before it. 

Fortunately there are, in the list of the world's infinite 
sorrows, but few such as that which weighed upon Em- 
peror Francis - Joseph on the night that followed the 
great battle. 

The unfortunate Sovereign thought then that no great- 
er ordeal could have been laid upon him, but, though he 
staggered under it, yet when the Italian provinces were 
forever lost to the Empire, when the blood-tinted smoke 
of Solferino lifted from his horizon, he still stood erect 
with his old dauntlessness ; his spirit unbroken, his forti- 
tude reconquered ; and his youth he was only twenty- 
nine which made him feel the stroke so keenly, gave 
him also strength for that greater blow when, in 1866, 
the Prussians added Koniggratz to the already then so 
lengthy list of his sorrows. Then, indeed, his heart 
almost broke in this supreme and paralyzing horror, 
and quivering in the helplessness and anguish which 
even his noble nature could not vanquish, his unwaver- 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ing heroism conquer, he came nigh to draining his cup 
of bitterness to the dregs, and in a few hours lived a 
martyrdom which crushed and maimed his very soul. 

Among his most trying experiences, in connection with 
the Six Weeks' War, was the reception at Vienna of those 
German Sovereigns who, in consequence of their hav- 
ing espoused his cause against the Prussians, had been 
driven from their dominions, and in several cases de- 
prived of their thrones. Each one of them was wel- 
comed at the railroad-station on their arrival with all 
sovereign honors the blind King of Hanover, who had 
fought with such heroism at the Battle of Langenzalza, 
and his son, the Crown-Prince, now so well known and 
liked throughout Austria as the Duke of Cumberland, 
the aged King of Saxony, the surly and cantankerous 
Elector of Hesse, and the Duke of Nassau, who, after a 
quarter of a century spent in delightful exile at Vienna, 
was to recover, not the throne that he had lost, but an- 
other, namely, that of the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. 
The Emperor, realizing as he did that they had risked 
their crowns for the sake of their friendship to Austria 
and the House of Habsburg, felt that each of these drives 
to receive them to and from the railroad-station was a 
painful pilgrimage indeed. 

Not yet, however, had he reached the summit of his 
Calvary. All was not said and done, nor had the sword 
that was to doubly pierce the very roots of his being as 
yet fallen, had he only known it ; but God, in His mercy, 
has hidden the future for us, else few would care to go on 
living. 

Under the green leafage of Schonbrunn, harmonious 
with the melody of innumerable song-birds amid the 
cool, fountain-splashed parterres and velvety lawns, so 
sweet and full of peace and fragrance, so entrancingly 
beautiful after the scorched, blood-stained Italian plains, 

196 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

where so many of Austria's sons had found a heroic 
death the dazzling creature who was his wife gave a 
deep-drawn sigh of joy when once she had him back, 
when his arms were about her again, and her head rested 
on his breast. 

The keenest pain can be lulled to sleep by a great 
love ; and in the intoxication of finding her more tender 
than she had ever been before, in the second honeymoon 
which followed his return, he found a momentary forget - 
fulness of the memories which haunted him, and was 
almost happy again almost, I say it advisedly, for he 
never could wholly cast aside the sickening sense of all 
the slaughter of life and pride he had witnessed and 
sustained at Solferino. 

Light and coloring, the transparent shadows of leafy 
depths, the fragrance of countless blossoms, the spark- 
ling spray of jets d'eau were a fitting frame for this short 
renouveau of mutual love and understanding, a becom- 
ing background for the lovely face and form of his 
Elizabeth, looking now so proudly at him out of her 
great, deep eyes; but the rose-garlanded terraces of 
Schonbrunn were not secluded enough in their opinion, 
and so they withdrew to the solitude of Laxenburg and 
fell to watching the silvery rays of the moon lighting the 
foliage, the rolling charmilles, the glancing lily-studded 
waters of the lake, or lost themselves amid the shadowy 
green of the fair summer landscape, enjoying, for once, 
in all its fulness and quite unhindered, that love which 
comes but rarely to ennoble, soften, and endear life. 

He was wholly her own now; and when he looked upon 
the extraordinary fairness of her face he felt that she 
was the one woman he had loved or would ever really 
love with that passion which is of the mind and heart 
as well as of the senses, that she shared his life as no 
other would ever share it, that the world held no sweeter 

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A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

music than her voice, and that his pride was wholly 
centred in her matchless beauty and goodness, in her 
sovereign grace and charm ; for during those short weeks 
of absolute bliss there seemed to radiate about this ex- 
quisite woman and this man, bruised and stunned by 
an almost insupportable blow, an effulgence, pure, cloud- 
less, glorified, God-sent, and which neither of them ever 
forgot. 

Neither of them thought now of the patrician, seduc- 
tive, dusky-eyed blonde who, according to the chronique 
scandaleuse of the Court, had been more or less favored 
now and again, until the dark shadow of war had rele- 
gated to oblivion both the cause and the effect of this 
gossip. 

The persevering lady, persevering in her purpose as 
in her unimpaired charms, still enjoyed posing as the 
wife and victim of a Caliban, but she had given up be- 
ing quite as over-careful about violating conventionali- 
ties as when she was still little more than a bride, and 
she had become very "rapid" indeed, in a quaint, 
languid, poetic, inimitable manner, which was exces- 
sively attractive to the strong sex. She could with jus- 
tice pique herself on her skill, and there was a cham- 
pagne draught of mirth and mischief in her coquetries, 
a half -reckless, half-scientific chic about her which few 
could resist. 

This charmeuse par excellence still held her place secure- 
ly, nevertheless, in the highest rank of the most fastidi- 
ous and exclusive Court of Europe. To be distinguish- 
ed by her was still an honor; and the chains she cast 
about men were made of roses; but, for all that, her clev- 
erly tinted presentation of a femme incomprise chimed 
less harmoniously with the rest of her now more dash- 
ing methods, which was a pity, for the premiere maniere 
had been far better suited to her style. 

198 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

But, for all that, the cruel stroke of doubt and of jeal- 
ousy had not struck the less near home, and gentle though 
Empress Elizabeth's nature was, beyond all forgive- 
ness was the little triumphant smile with which her 
wicked rival had tantalized her for so long wherever 
they chanced to meet a smile which galled her more 
than any knowledge of the fancied or real flirtations in 
other directions so ruthlessly reported to her, for this 
woman had been, she knew, her Franz's first infatua- 
tion, and in this she saw a particular danger to her- 
self. 

The halcyon days after his return from the war were 
all the more precious to the young wife because she so 
greatly feared that a season, a month, a few hours, might 
be the only respite of a full quietude left her, the only 
pause between perfect bliss and the fiat of desolation, 
of anxious, restless misery she already knew so well; 
for Elizabeth, in the midst of all that was highest, fairest, 
greatest, and most bewitching, surrounded by the in- 
cessant whirlpool of pleasure and splendor of her 
husband's brilliant Court, felt utterly alone, utterly 
wretched, utterly beggared and downcast, when these 
doubts and jealousies, which stung her like scourges, as- 
sailed her. 

Walking with him in the park at Laxenburg that 
fairy castle which mirrors its ivy -hung facade, its 
peaked turrets, its stone balustrades covered with 
the broad, lustrous leaves of creepers and the profuse 
blossoms of twining roses, in the smooth waters of its 
encircling lake her irresistible loveliness sweeping over 
him like the intoxication of some penetrating fragrance, 
feeling without the chance of a doubt that she had 
drawn him at last completely within the charmed circle 
of her power, she was so absurdly happy that she in- 
voluntarily thought of Friar Laurence's prophetic 

199 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

" These violent delights have violent ends, 
And in their triumph die; like fire and powder, 
Which as they kiss consume!" 

and this often caused her eyes to rest upon him with a 
mournful tenderness she could not conceal, nor he, alas, 
fail to understand. 

The stamp of their bitter fate was still upon them in 
a sort of hazy fashion, for the wounds they had both re- 
ceived were too recent to be entirely closed healed they 
never were quite, as I have already said. To him the mem- 
ory of his defeat, of all the gall ant -hearted men who 
had gone out so cheerily to their death, and whose 
bodies had fallen so thickly among the crushed lav- 
ender bushes and uprooted olive plantations of Solfe- 
rino, was far too fresh not to still make him wince, while 
to her the thought of Archduchess Sophia's sweeping con- 
tempt was like a menace looming over her future; and 
yet and yet those sweet hours of reprieve were an 
ever-renewed delight, which nothing could really spoil 
or overshadow. 

One night they had stepped out upon the terrace to 
watch the soft ripple of the moon on the water, the 
scintillating of the stars repeated in diamond-like sparks 
between the pale-green spots of the floating lily-pads. 
There was no sound save the soft, sweet gush of the 
nightingale's songs close by, in a mass of foliage span- 
gled with bloom, and the gentle breath of a faint 
breeze ruffling the great, dark draperies of ivy behind 
them. 

Such an hour is rare in any life; in theirs it was al- 
most unique. 

All the Emperor's reawakened passion stirred at the 
sight of the delicate, smiling face of his young wife, now 
quite her own radiant self again, and who, when she 

200 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

lifted her lustrous eyes to his, betrayed so naively her 
joy and her love that his heart grew heavy with con- 
scious remorse. 

Perchance, he thought of that moment when, with 
unconquerable emotion, he had slipped over her slender 
finger the golden badge of woman's servitude as she 
knelt by his side at the altar, her retinue of Royal and 
Imperial bridesmaids behind her ; of the exquisite young 
face and form seen to full advantage for the first time 
through showers of priceless bridal lace ; of the trusting, 
almost pathetic adoration of her glance as she shyly 
peeped at him through her filmy veils, and of the fond, 
proud, whispered words of tender encouragement he had 
murmured to her as they had passed out of the dazzlingly 
illuminated, flower-filled Court Chapel, between the bow- 
ing rows of their courtiers joined together for life, "for 
better or worse," whatever ill, whatever joy might 
come, with no possibility to ever unsolder the chains 
forged by Holy Mother Church. 

"For better, for worse!" Poor little girl great Em- 
press though she was had it not been already too often 
"for worse "! 

He bent over her with the deepest tenderness she had 
ever awakened in him. 

"Elsie!" 

It was only one short word, but it was also the name 
he used rarely when they were quite, quite alone, in mo- 
ments of absolute abandon. 

She started slightly, and clung to him, while he threw 
his arms about her and drew her very close, pressing 
his lips passionately to hers. 

"My little Elsie! my sweetheart! my own, precious 
darling!" he murmured. "I have not always been as 
kind to you as you deserve ; but it was not from lack of 
love. Will you believe that, at least?" 

201 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

"Hush! hush!" she whispered, with a fleeting up- 
ward glance into his eyes, where tears had risen, and 
then a swift, almost frightened droop of her graceful 
head upon his heart. 

She was too deeply moved, too shy of this renewed joy 
to speak, and for many minutes she could not even tell 
him that all her trust and confidence had been resur- 
rected by what he had just said. 

At last, he spoke again. 

"You cannot realize all I have suffered, all my temp- 
tations, all my struggles. I am not trying to excuse 
myself, my dearest one! I know too well how wrong I 
have been; but I wish to throw from my conscience a 
heavy burden, heavier far since your merciful forget- 
fulness of your wrongs, your noble generosity in not 
once alluding to them in our present solitude. My own 
love ! what words can tell you all you have always been 
and will always be to me, nor how I missed you and 
thought of you constantly throughout this long, heart- 
breaking campaign! I must have been mad at Solferino. 
I longed to fall in the field, but not a bullet would hit 
me. Austria beaten ! I did not know how to endure it. 
I remember that when I rallied my poor soldiers at the 
last, the remainder of those brave men whom death alone 
had vanquished, I cried: 'Vorwarts, Thr Braven, auch ich 
habe Weib und Kind zu verlieren!' and the thought 
of you and of our little ones gave me a sudden renewal 
of strength and of hope, just as my words urged nay 
troops on to such acts of valor that MacMahon is reported 
to have said afterwards: 'Encore une victoire comme 
celle-la et nous rentrerons en France sans armee.' I 
prayed for death after that, Elsie; I prayed for death, 
prayed as I never prayed for anything else in my 
life; and yet I am no coward. But there are sights 
and thoughts that may well turn men insane, and which 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

are only lived through at the cost of every quivering 
nerve and fibre of one's being!" 

She shuddered. What comfort had she to give him 
for such recollections? She could only cling to him 
tighter, and vow that henceforth she would try to make 
his life happy again. 

It was then that Elizabeth really first learned the 
depths of tenderness, gentleness, and affection of her 
husband's nature, and all he whispered to her on that 
blissful night was a dearer remembrance than aught else 
in the bitter years that followed. 

They stayed long in love's delicious solitude, under 
the clear, twinkling stars, and she was so happy, lean- 
ing, in her snowy draperies, against her tall, stalwart, re- 
conquered lover, that she thanked God aloud for this 
new delight which had come into her life, tears of pure 
rapture wetting her long lashes; and that when nearly 
twenty years later she told me of the pathetic little 
scene I have just tried to describe, her voice trembled 
and her glorious eyes filled at the mere memory of it. 

When they re-entered the castle that night there was 
such gladness in her face, so fond a smile on her lips, 
and so exquisite a flush upon her velvety cheeks that 
he told her he had never seen anything so beautiful as 
she. And he was a connoisseur! 

And what do you think that she, in her extraordinary 
humility, had replied to his confession, to his bitter self- 
reproaches, to his passionate admiration of her pure 
stainlessness and goodness? 

" Oh! I have so little merit. An Empress is so fenced 
in and guarded that she can do no wrong, at least no 
serious wrong, even if she wished it, and I never did! 
While a man, especially when he is a high and mighty 
and handsome Sovereign like my Franz, is assailed on 
all sides by temptations. It is the women who are to 

203 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

blame, the wicked temptresses!" and she clenched her 
little, pearly teeth fiercely as she thought of all those 
Circes pursuing him with their wiles and allurements! 

This portion of their conversation was told me by him. 
They liked, those two, to talk of their few happy mem- 
ories to a real sympathizer. 

So easily does a loving woman forget her past sorrows 
in present joys, that the bitterness so long felt by Eliza- 
beth was entirely dissipated in the beauty of this new 
existence, and she could, from her heart, say what few 
can boast of namely, that life at least had given her 
a brief period of wellnigh cloudless joy. 

This short Imperial holiday passed away only too quick- 
ly for the young couple, bright from the minute when 
the sun peeped rosily through the gauzy mists of dawn, 
until the evening star had sunk to rest behind the dew- 
laden trees of the Imperial Park. 

"You will love me always like this now promise?" 
whispered Elizabeth on their last evening at Laxen- 
burg. "Never less tenderly, never less faithfully?" 

She paused with a little sob of fear and joy. He 
clasped his arms about her tightly, passionately, mur- 
muring fond promises in her tiny ear, for just then he 
loved her with a tenderness intensified by the poetical 
and absolute solitude which for the first time in their 
married life had completely sorrounded them, by the 
sweet hours spent in perfect union, and by her own un- 
expected gentleness and generous restraint from either 
taunt or reproach. 

Long did he hold her in his arms as if no earthly power 
could rend her from him, and, clinging closely to him, she 
looked up in his eyes, with all her faith and her con- 
fidence restored, and with not a trace of past shadows 
upon her sweet, tender face. 

It was piteous, I have been told, when once more all 

204 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

joy had been crushed out of her life, all hope and trust- 
fulness destroyed, to see her awake from this fair dream, 
awake to the utter barrenness of her desolate future a 
piteous sight, indeed, I readily believe! Young, pure, 
devoted as she was, and wronged in her fondest trust, as 
she thought and believed that she had been, she suffered 
as few have done. 

Her wild bursts of sorrow, the agony of her terrible 
fits of despair, her subsequent dull, mute, hopeless 
anguish, her health stricken and broken down, the fears 
at one time entertained for her reason and even her 
life, her flight to Madeira, induced by the whirl of 
thoughts and feelings, doubts and fears, which made her 
touch the very bitterness of death I have set all this 
down in The Martyrdom of an Empress, much to the dis- 
pleasure of those who would have considered it more 
fitting, in every respect, and more convenient also for 
them, to let sleeping facts lie in more senses than one 
so that they still could cast all the blame of what seemed 
at times difficult to explain in her conduct upon her own 
shoulders, even after death had parted her alike from 
friends and foes. 

But what matters it all now ? excepting in so far as 
the object of this present work is concerned, which is 
to turn the other side of the medal towards the public 
in justice to the so grievously bereaved husband, and to 
his mother as well. The whole blame, the whole and 
entire responsibility of the Empress's martyrdom, the 
unending misery of one of the fairest and proudest lives 
which ever left the hand of Almighty God, should not 
fall on those two alone, for there were others who should, 
in fairness and justice, be added to the list of her unhappy 
fate's artificers others who played the part of lying in- 
formers, and who urged on Archduchess Sophia's preju- 
dice by pure inventions about her unfortunate daughter- 

205 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

in-law, hoping thereby to curry favor who poured out 
drop by drop, cleverly, shrewdly, and scientifically, the 
poison which worked, and worked in its iniquitous po- 
tency, and bit like the strongest acid into Elizabeth's 
heart, while she could only wait inactive, hoping that 
justice might some day be done to her a mercy which 
was, however, refused. 

Also she suffered many other torments besides those 
created by injustice and jealousy: the agony of be- 
reaved motherhood, and the cruel pain before that 
last and supreme sorrow befell her, of seeing her 
only and beloved son's life wrecked by the bitter dis- 
appointments and disillusions his marriage brought 
him. 

Elizabeth was sensitive to an extraordinary degree, 
and the hostile attitude of wellnigh every member of her 
Court and entourage threw her from cold surprise to 
nervous apprehension, which made her own manner, by 
no means always cordial, like that, indeed, of a person 
standing off, shut in, withheld. 

There is a fallacy to the effect that the tongue is 
woman's weapon, even as the fist is man's. Experienced 
and sagacious people can, however, tell quite another 
tale that men are quite as ready as women to employ 
the one first mentioned, the feminine one, which is 
by far the deadlier of the two, for it breaks hearts 
instead of bones, and can be used with incredible 
savagery. Both sexes are alike in this, and there is 
small choice between them. Any one who lived in Vi- 
enna during the life of the Empress, even as a visi- 
tor from foreign parts, is familiar with the disgraceful 
stories circulated about her, and with the yet more in- 
iquitous reasons alleged for her so-called coldness to her 
husband, retailed by high and low in twenty different 
octaves. Had these wiseacres been granted the power 

206 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

of analyzing Elizabeth's true character, they would have 
found out the reason of this alleged coldness. 

She never, never, never could understand that her 
husband's nature, alive and vigorous, rebelled against 
the laws of marriage, the constant fetters binding this 
often sorely tempted, singularly attractive man to one 
love and one fealty, nor that he was made for passions 
which her delicate pride, dainty chilliness, and exces- 
sive refinement could not even apprehend ; and that his 
very manliness clamored for rights and for a freedom 
which women of her stamp never dream of. She was so 
constant herself that to her it was incomprehensible 
that when she did not stand beside him, her soft little 
fingers holding his, the charm and seduction of her 
presence permeating the very air he breathed, she lost 
all power to hold him to his bonds; and that it was 
when thus unguarded by her immediate influence that 
he may perchance have occasionally strayed from the 
narrow and difficult path of absolute fidelity. 

This and this alone after the death of Archduchess 
Sophia was the reason of her intermittent fits of cold- 
ness, of her absences (which, as he had formerly allowed, 
he could not afterwards well forbid), of their piteous 
misunderstandings misunderstandings complete, fre- 
quent, and at times cruel. 

This was what caused all the pain and the trouble 
between two admirable human beings formed for each 
other's joy, whose hearts and souls God had joined to- 
gether, before man or woman had taken a hand in the 
matter, and in the usual meddling, pharisaical way had 
spoiled their lives. 

And yet, I shall maintain it to the end, that she and 
she alone had the power to strike far down into his heart, 
and to stir it to its very depths, for his love for her was 
not the "love" which most men consider a mere amuse- 

207 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ment, like gambling or drinking, pour passer le temps, 
but a noble, generous, high-souled tenderness of su- 
premely lofty essence, lavishing upon her a fondness of 
unequalled and unutterable value. Unfortunately, she 
wanted more than that; not more than she herself gave, 
however, for he was all the world to her, but more than 
he could give, since it was unwearied, unceasing, eternal, 
and utter constancy which she demanded. 

Elizabeth was the pearl of women, the cleverest, the 
loveliest; and because she committed the one error of 
measuring others by her own standard she antagonized 
many who could no more comprehend or appreciate her 
than a blind worm can feel the colors of the rainbow. 
It is discouraging even to try and explain her out as I 
am doing now, because it is so impossible a task; the 
only things worth writing about her are inexpressible, 
the only things that can be written and made clear seem 
so obvious and worthless, a very crackling of thorns in 
the fire. To what end, then, shall I make further speech, 
on that subject, save to give myself an aching heart? 
She and her humble chronicler are companions in mis- 
ery no longer. Our losses subserve another's gain, and 
she has now gained her reward of justice and peace. 

I have never been able to understand why the fangs 
of calumny have fastened themselves with such extraor- 
dinary and uncalled-for tenacity on the House of Habs- 
burg, not a single member of which has been spared by 
the venomous tongues and equally venomous pens of 
people "who knew not what they said," and who were 
not even turned from their nefarious course by the ter- 
rible misfortunes so nobly and courageously borne by 
both the late Empress Elizabeth and by her husband. 

Ever since the foul assassination of that peerless 
woman, the wearisome hurdy-gurdy of sensationalism has 
been grinding out new tunes, evoked from old themes, 

208 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

and now taking for their Leit-motif a man whom grand- 
eur of character and loftiness of purpose should have 
safe-guarded against such unfounded and base attacks, 
and a woman whom an unhappy life and a miserable 
death might also have shielded, if her beauty, goodness, 
and purity were not sufficient to insure her immunity, 
from wilful misconstruction and post-mortem scandals. 

The fact that the Emperor is a man, made of flesh 
and blood, as well as a great Monarch, and therefore 
possessed of the feelings and qualities as well as of a few 
of the failings and frailties inherent in human nature, 
constitutes no excuse for misconstruing every one of his 
actions. 

Among other singularly unjust charges laid at his 
door was that of having elevated to the r61e of a Madame 
de Pompadour that popular favorite of the Viennese 
public, Katharina Schratt, the celebrated actress of the 
Imperial Burg-Theatre. 

All one can say of this accusation is that it is perhaps 
one of the least founded and one of the most ridiculous 
of the many with which Francis-Joseph has been over- 
whelmed. 

A few words of explanation, moreover, are all that 
is needed to prove this beyond the possibility of a doubt. 

Born in the delightfully picturesque little town of 
Baden, near Vienna, Katharina Schratt, from early child- 
hood, gave promise, not only of becoming a beautiful 
and very charming woman, but also a great artist. Nor 
were these promises vain, for shortly after leaving the 
Conservatoire, her appearance at the Viennese Stadt- 
Theatre created a sensation, and her attractive face and 
form, as well as her naive, sympathetic, and totally un- 
affected diction, placed her from the beginning on a par 
with the most famous ingenues. 

All hearts went spontaneously out to her, and her 
*4 209 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

successes as an actress were wellnigh without number. 
Strange to say, her reputation remained absolutely un- 
sullied. Of admirers she had many, but in her own 
merry, witty, delicate way she compassed the difficult 
task of keeping them at a distance, while still retaining 
them as devoted friends. 

This was all the more meritorious, as her salary was at 
first naturally not excessive and her expenses very large ; 
but this bizarre young woman refused all possible offers 
of "friendly" loans with so much decision that a singular 
halo of purity enhanced her manifold charms, and that 
she was nicknamed by clubmen "the Snow Flower." 

Her debts, however, accumulated; and when, in 1883, 
Adolph Wilbrandt engaged her for the Imperial Burg- 
Theatre, although she was the acknowledged queen of 
the Viennese Lustspiel, her financial affairs were at a 
singularly low ebb. 

The touching charm and personal magnetism of 
"Katti" made it easy for her to leap, at one bound 
almost, to the heights of tragedy, and her Queen Eliza- 
beth in "Don Carlos " was a magnificent creation, while 
in the famous piece "Stahl und Stein" she displayed 
the eloquence of genius, and carried all before her. 

I purposely mention all this, not by any means in 
order to glorify Katharina Schratt, but because it seems 
best under the circumstances to give a short sketch of 
the true "Katti," since outside of Austria she has been 
hitherto not only misunderstood, but her true position 
with regard to the Emperor misrepresented and revolting- 
ly distorted by false interpretations and falser stories. 

And now I come to the actual character of her I con- 
fess, somewhat surprising intimacy with the Imperial 
Family. 

Although, of course, not hoffahig, and therefore inca- 
pacitated from being officially presented at court, " Kat- 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

tiV position, as a personal friend of the Habsburgs, is 
now, and has always been, not only absolutely free from 
any shadow of the mysterious or underhand, but strictly 
fair and above-board. 

Empress Elizabeth, who was the soul of honor and 
rectitude, and extremely intolerant of anything approach- 
ing impropriety, besides being far too clever and wide- 
awake to be hoodwinked in any way, was sincerely fond 
of Frau Schratt, and made a point of inviting her to 
come to see her whenever she was sojourning at her 
Castle of Lainz, at the Kaiser-Villa in Ischl, or any of 
the resorts which she loved to visit, outside of her hus- 
band's dominions, at the sea-side, the C6te d'Azur, or 
any other spot from whence strict Court etiquette was 
banished. 

Many a time during the latter years of the Empress's 
life did " Katti " take a short holiday in the early spring, 
and, like a bird of good omen, fly to Cape Martin, 
with the sole object of bringing to her beloved Imperial 
mistress the first violets which shyly peeped out from 
their mossy hiding-places in the Viennese Prater. 

Her arrival was always a cause of joy for Elizabeth, 
who was wont to say that the appearance of "Katti," 
with her sunny smile, and her delicious burden of fra- 
grant flowers, was indeed the first harbinger of spring, 
and therefore she playfully nicknamed her "L'hiron- 
delle " a very felicitous appellation for a creature whose 
graceful rapidity and elegance of motion reminds one 
involuntarily of a joyful swallow, flitting hither and 
thither and carrying hope and loving thoughts wherever 
she alights. 

"Hirondelle legere dans les cieux edatants." Thus be- 
gins the celebrated song written by Felicien David, 
and thus did the wife of Francis-Joseph invariably greet 
the woman whom the admirable charity of so-called 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

society throughout the length and breadth of two con- 
tinents, with the solitary exception of Austro-Hungary, 
loudly proclaimed to be her successful rival in the 
affections of the only man whom she, Elizabeth, ever 
loved. 

"Oh, thou short of vision, thou canting, senseless, 
hypocritical thing, society! Will the scales never fall 
from the eyes of thy adherents?" cries the Due de 
Richelieu. "Thou narrow of mind, thou prejudice- 
girthed, venomous object, hydra with a million heads, 
unconquerable pest!" continues the Prime-Minister, in 
a monologue which is full of harsh but strict truths; 
and Heaven knows that there is not one of us old Mon- 
dains or Mondaines who do not at heart indorse the 
sentiments thus uttered by a faithful legitimist, and a 
man whose highness of mind and fairness of judgment 
were proverbial. 

I have seen it stated in newspapers professing to be 
well informed that the Emperor of Austria fell violently 
in love with the Schratt during a representation of 
Scribe's "Ein Glass Wasser " at the Stadt-Theatre many 
years ago, and that from that very moment the pretty 
actress owed her luxury and her splendor to the gallant 
monarch whose heart she had so swiftly captured. 

There is not a word of truth in this. Frau Schratt 
came face to face with the Emperor for the first time 
on the occasion of a private audience granted to her at 
her request, when the debts resulting from the magnifi- 
cence of the toilettes which she was forced to wear on 
the stage became so heavy, that she resolved to sever 
her connection with the Burg-Theatre. The directors, 
reluctant to lose so popular an artist, having refused to 
release her from her contract, the plucky, determined 
little woman went straight to Francis- Joseph, in order 
to appeal to him as a last and supreme resort. 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

"But why do you want to leave the Burg-Theatre?" 
quoth the monarch, twirling his silky mustaches, as is 
his wont when annoyed, and looking at the bright, clever 
face before him with his penetrating blue eyes. 

"Oh, Your Majesty, I cannot stay. I am too poor to 
pay for my dresses," replied " Katti," blushing violently. 

"Tut, tut !" exclaimed the Emperor. "You are being 
swindled, probably, and the harm is not without a rem- 
edy ; and as we cannot so easily dispense with an actress 
of your merit, I will have this matter looked into." 

Here I may as well open another parenthesis to ex- 
plain that while the cost of all the superb classic cos- 
tumes at the Burg-Theatre and the Opera at Vienna is 
defrayed by the Sovereign, actresses are required to pay 
out of their own pockets for the toilettes which they wear 
in modern plays. "Katti," whose repertoire consisted 
almost exclusively of light comedy and drama, such as 
"L'Etrangere " and "Le monde ou Von s'ennuie," was 
therefore absolutely swamped by her milliner's bills; but 
the Emperor was as good as his word. He intrusted 
to a well-known Viennese financier the mission of set- 
tling Frau Schratt's affairs, and this was accomplished 
with so much success that the actress was enabled, 
without sacrificing one tithe of her pride or of her inde- 
pendence, to remain a pensionnaire of the Burg-Theatre, 
where she continued to shine as a star of considerable 
magnitude. 

The whole incident was related to the Empress by 
her Consort, and she was so pleased with the straight- 
forwardness and honesty of Katharina that she sent 
for her, made her some valuable presents, and befriend- 
ed her in every possible way, being quite captivated 
by the simple, light-hearted, winning manners of the 
"Snow Flower," a strange one, indeed, and a rare, to 
blossom on the stage. 

213 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

Empress Elizabeth was not given to doing things by 
halves, and when once she liked somebody her esteem 
and regard were deep and lasting, the word "friend" 
being with her no empty phrase. It is, therefore, not 
surprising that she should have made a point of treating 
Frau Schratt without a trace of condescension, for it 
was part of her nature to forestall any humiliation, be it 
ever so slight, which a woman of lesser delicacy of feeling 
and subtleness of tact might have involuntarily inflicted 
on a being less privileged than herself, from a worldly 
stand-point, who chanced to come into contact with her. 

At small family dinners and luncheons, when the 
Emperor and Empress were almost alone, "Katti" was 
frequently bidden, and her ringing, melodious laugh, her 
inexhaustible fund of anecdote, and her little touch of 
vernacular, when she spoke familiarly, kept her Imperial 
hosts in a continuous vein of good-humor. 

There was something almost childlike in her essen- 
tially natural and simple fashion of accepting a situation 
not by any means free from difficulties, nor innocent of 
shoals, and yet Katharina, strange to declare, never 
made a solecism, presumed upon the flattering intimacy 
accorded to her, nor forgot her place even momentarily. 
All this was accomplished, however, without cringing, 
flattery, or obsequiousness. She was content with being 
merely herself, a merry Wienerkind, full of guileless fun, 
ready to make or take a joke, but yet possessed of an 
undercurrent of sincere, almost pathetic, depth of feel- 
ing, which made of her an ideal consoler, and a very 
precious companion when joy gave place to sorrow and 
the dark wing of misfortune overshadowed, again and 
again, the house of her kindly Imperial patrons. 

"I am Your Majesty's court -buffoon!" she once ex- 
claimed, when one of her inimitable impersonations of 
some world-renowned celebrity had made Elizabeth 

214 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

laugh for the first time since the death of the Crown- 
Prince. 

"Do not say that," replied the Empress, gently 
touching the actress's slender hand, and drawing it 
within her own. " You are our ray of sunshine, my dear ; 
and little do you know how often your delightful mirth 
has made the Emperor and myself temporarily forget 
the sadness which now seems to have become part of 
both of us. Your merriness is not buffoonery ; far from 
it, it is witchery of the most covetable quality, for it 
chases away dark thoughts and turns the somberest 
sky rosy." 

One summer morning Frau Schratt had been lunching 
with the Emperor and Empress at Castle Lainz. The 
weather was oppressively warm, and through the open 
windows the superb parterres amid which the castle is 
embedded showed like rich, multi-colored carpets under 
a lowering, storm-laden sky. 

The Empress, who was clad in a diaphanous tea-gown 
of black gauze and lace, expressed her consideration for 
"those poor men" who in summer are forced to encase 
themselves in heavy uniforms or stifling tweeds. 

" Pardon me, my Dearest," said the Emperor, solemnly 
shaking his head, "you do not seem to notice that my uni- 
form is made of some ethereally thin cloth, which comes 
straight from England, and that really it is no warmer 
to wear than are your transparent draperies. But," he 
added, with a sigh of genuine compunction, "it is very 
delicate and horribly expensive, and I have been sadly 
extravagant!" 

Everybody laughed at the comical air of consterna- 
tion with which one of the wealthiest of monarchs con- 
templated his natty attire, this economy, practised only 
on himself, being a well-known little failing of his. 

When, a little later, Francis- Joseph stepped into the 

215 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

grounds to take his usual post-prandial constitutional, 
Frau Schratt was requested by the Empress, who de- 
clared that she herself was too overcome by the heat to 
go out, to accompany him. 

Gayly chatting, actress and Emperor wended their 
way under the shade of the grand old trees, until they 
were suddenly overtaken, without any other warning 
than one single, mighty peal of thunder, by a violent 
downpour of rain. 

Hurriedly opening her dainty silk sunshade, Frau 
Schratt entreated the Emperor to take shelter under 
this apology for an umbrella. 

"What nonsense!" cried Francis-Joseph, turning on 
his heel, and leading the way towards the distant castle ; 
"I'm not made of salt, my dear child!" 

"But, Majesty," implored Katharina, with serious 
concern, "what about the nice, new, expensive suit of 
clothes. It will be ruined!" 

The Emperor was still laughing heartily over her 
alarm for this "nice, new, expensive suit" when, 
drenched to the skin, they re-entered Castle Lainz. 

This little anecdote may serve to show what harmless 
and simple relations existed between the Imperial couple 
and their "protegee." 

Nor did this soft-hearted woman ever misuse her in- 
fluence. She was, on the contrary, always eager to 
attract the good-natured Emperor's attention towards 
the poor and the needy, and to this day she never allows 
an occasion to escape, from which benefit may be de- 
rived for those who are in trouble, when she talks with 
her venerable Imperial friend. 

Her r61e has been throughout one of kindly interces- 
sion for such unfortunates, many of whom the Emperor, 
at her request, has aided and relieved from want or mis- 
chance. There are, indeed, thousands in the vast extent 

316 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

of Austro-Hungary who may thank Katharina Schratt 
for her timely intervention on their behalf, and who 
would lose with her the best and sincerest of mediators. 

A lonely, wretched, disconsolate life has fallen to the 
share of the Emperor of Austria since the day when his 
beautiful Consort was taken from him under such singu- 
larly terrible circumstances, and this new and unheal- 
able wound reopened all the others which his brave 
heart had received during a long career of care and 
trouble. Is it then a crime that he should have clung 
to the pure, deep, and loyal friendship of a woman whom 
he regards as the friend and passionately devoted ad- 
mirer of his dead wife, and as the companion of happier 
days? "My comrade," is what he calls "Katti," and 
a stanch, unselfish comrade she is, as all who know the 
true circumstances of the case would be ready to testify. 

I must not omit to add, if more proof thereof be needed 
after all which has gone before, that it was not only the 
Emperor and Empress of Austria who were the firm 
friends of Katharina Schratt, but that also the Imperial 
children, as well as the other members of the family, 
hold her in high regard. Indeed, when three years 
ago Empress Elizabeth's sister, Countess Trani, made a 
tour through Italy, she invited "Katti" to accompany 
her as an honored member of her suite, and it was as 
, such that the actress was received with the royal Prin- 
cess in private audience by Leo XIII. at the Vatican. 

There has never been any question of a morganatic mar- 
riage between the monarch and " Katti," still less of any 
cause for scandal, but merely relations of kindly, de- 
voted, and disinterested friendship, which are viewed with 
approval by the people of Vienna. They like to feel 
that their beloved Sovereign has frequently at his side, 
in her person, not only a wise counsellor, but a woman 
who considers it her most sacred duty to lighten the 

217 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

burden of pain that rests heavily on those square shoul- 
ders and that whitened head which have heroically 
weathered the fury of many storms ; storms great enough 
to have uprooted the very soul of any human being 
lacking the sterling qualities of courage and of endur- 
ance which so endear Francis-Joseph to his subjects. 

One lends to the rich, of course, saith the old proverb, 
and it seems impossible to convince anybody that the 
knightly monarch, so often compared to the famous 
lover of the Mille-e-tre, the Imperial Don Juan par ex- 
cellence, should in this instance be innocent of every- 
thing but genuine friendship; and yet, for all that, it is 
none the less true. 



CHAPTER IX 

EVER since that second honeymoon, described in 
the preceding chapter, Elizabeth, who had always 
liked Laxenburg better than Schonbrunn, entertained 
a peculiar tenderness for this beautiful Imperial abode. 

Those who have not seen Laxenburg, especially as it 
was years ago, before too many modern improvements 
and the presence of the ex-Princess, ex-Archduchess, ex- 
Crown-Princess, ex-widow, who spent the first months 
of that widowhood there, depoetized this ideal castle, 
have, indeed, a regret to add to those always so gener- 
ously allowed by life's sad experience. 

To see Laxenburg to full advantage it was also neces- 
sary to visit it in the first fresh burst of early spring, 
when the great elm and lime trees of the park were still 
in the tender, delicate loveliness of their pale -green 
leaflets, and when the ferns, from the tiniest feathery 
sprays up to the tallest, most ambitious fronds that 
tower protectingly over banks of violets, primroses, and 
daffodils, were still uncurling their soft tops in its 
fragrant glades; or else when late August or early Sep- 
tember glow upon the encircling lake, in the stretching 
aisles of glancing green and gold, where stately red deer 
trod majestically, and upon the superb front of the 
magnificent building, with its terraces and tourelles, its 
immense gardens and lawns of velvet turf, and its cen- 
tury-old timber, under the shadow of which "little 
Franzi" once played so light-heartedly and carelessly 
with his beloved "Grot." 

219 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Kestrels and gerfalcons wheeled constantly in the 
sunny sky of the fair, soft, brilliant autumn days, 
keeping their jewel-like eyes harshly bent upon the 
tangle of brown - tufted weeds, lance - leaved water 
gladioli, and lustrous, dark -green arrowheads, where 
the teal and mallard ducks had their nests, and gi- 
gantic blue herons stood everlastingly on one or the 
other of their slender yellow legs, watching mockingly 
and quizzically their enemies, the white and black im- 
perial swans floating contemptuously close, and dis- 
turbing with their soft-plumaged breasts the clear 
reflection of the massive battlemented tower, the fretted 
pinnacles, and the marvellously carven balconies of this 
paradisiacal fairy chdteau, distant enough from town or 
village to make it the most delightful of all residences. 

Fully worthy of the wellnigh unequalled beauty of 
this exterior was the dim splendor of purple and gold, 
the soft-hued draperies, the gleam of ancient, inlaid 
armor, the flash of priceless trophies which greeted one 
everywhere within. 

It was a joy to the eye to walk from the lofty, 
cedar-ceiled salons to the great galleries, hung with 
Van Dykes, Mignards, Holbeins, Spagnalettos and 
many other countless chefs d'&uvre by Dutch, French, 
and Spanish masters; from the banqueting-hall, pan- 
elled with black oak, where the arms of the Habs- 
burgs and of the royal and imperial houses with which 
they had allied themselves were emblazoned, and on 
three sides of which were ranged elaborately carved 
knights' stalls with gorgeous banners, heavily broidered, 
drooping above them, to the private chapel, gleaming 
like a gem set in richly tinted enamels, ivory, and 
dusky gold, when the sun-rays fell upon its treasures 
through the ruby and emerald, the sapphire and ame- 
thyst and rich, dazzling topaz of its inimitable verrieres. 




THE EMPEROR'S PRIVATE HALL OF AUDIENCE ix THE 
HOFRURG 




SCHLOSS LAXEXBURG 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

That was the old Laxenburg, which the latest occu- 
pants, I am told, have declared to be too severe, too 
august, too dark, too stern, too antique, and, if I judge 
rightly from what I know of one of them especially, 
have probably "embellished" with plush portieres and 
gay Parisian furniture. 

I am endowed with absurd and barbaric tastes, and 
therefore Laxenburg in its sombre, noble charm, with its 
hundred figures of knights in full armor, standing firmly 
in the Rittersaal, its oubliettes, where the white bones of 
long-dead prisoners still peeped from the darkness, its 
amazing stone and wood carvings, its painted cabinets, its 
library filled with hundreds of volumes, including many 
editio - princeps dating from the Renaissance, many 
ivory and silver bound missals and books of hours, 
and many great rolls of yellow parchment, with huge 
seals bearing heraldic arms and crowns, depending from 
them by broad, faded ribbons, its trophies of antique 
matchlocks, and scintillating, jewel-hilted, damascene- 
scabbarded swords, adorning the halls and corridors, was 
to me the realization, indeed, of what a truly royal 
residence should be. 

I might add, if this did not really sound over-pre- 
sumptuous and quite too lacking in humility, that these 
views of mine concerning Laxenburg were shared by 
no meaner a personage than Empress Elizabeth herself, 
who never tired of wandering in the almost unique 
and marvellous Gothic chapel, where is preserved the 
monstrance hblding the Holy Sacrament displayed to 
Maximilian I., on the cliff of the Martins wand, imme- 
diately before his marvellous rescue; of admiring the 
private sitting-room reserved for the Habsburg Em- 
presses, and which is quaintly and most originally 
tapestried with the mantles of the Knights of the Golden 
Fleece, worn at the installation of this supreme Order ; 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

or of gazing in the armory at the astonishingly beautiful 
armor of His Majesty, Charles V., and at the delicately 
wrought bas-reliefs, representing the siege of Troy, which 
adorn his helmet. 

This reminds me of one special ride with the Empress 
from Schonbrunn to Laxenburg, during which she told 
me exactly what she thought about this architectural 
gem ; and as I have been very sparing thus far in my 
^wn opinion, at least about personal reminiscences, I 
shall indulge myself in a short one now. 

After a brisk gallop along the uninterrupted avenue 
of trees connecting the two chief Imperial summer pal- 
aces in the neighborhood of Vienna, we slackened our 
speed and fell to chatting, as was our wont. 

Elizabeth was riding a chestnut thoroughbred, pos- 
sessed of a morose temper and a very wild eye, and I 
a fidgety bay, addicted to unseemly gambols, and dis- 
concerting tete-a-queus; but this mattered but little, for 
we progressed very comfortably, and, as my gracious 
companion humorously put it, "with all the inimitable 
dignity of twin Cyniscas returning from the Olympian 
games." 

The weather was absolutely perfect for a ride, and the 
checkered shadow of the great, umbrageous boughs over- 
head was deliciously cool and pleasant. 

"I have," the Empress said, suddenly, "a very par- 
ticular tenderness for our as yet unspoiled Austrian 
Chenonceaux. There are things quite as interesting 
as at the Burg to be seen there, some even more so, 
and, moreover, its being built on the lake in this old-fash- 
ioned way endears it extremely to me." 

I knew of memories which endeared Laxenburg still 
more to her, but said nothing about those, of course, 
and silently acquiesced. 

"Every time I am there," she continued, flicking the 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ears of her horse absent-mindedly with the end of her 
stick, which made the latter treat us to a bound prodig- 
ious enough to have unseated any one else, but which 
did not even cause this amazing horsewoman to inter- 
rupt her sentence, "I invariably fall to envying the 
ladies for whom those delicious full suits of armor we 
were looking at the other day were made." 

"To judge from them," I replied, dryly, "Jeanne d'Arc 
was not the only ' fair ladye ' who appreciated the pleas- 
ures of excitement and danger, and merrily sallied forth 
to encounter such distractions as flying arrows and ex- 
ploding culverins." 

"Such feelings are distinctly in favor of mediaeval 
women," she began; but the sudden breaking of a small 
branch caused her estimable hunter to stand upright, 
viciously pawing the air, and it was only when her, 
"Gently, old boy; quiet, quiet!" had induced the irasci- 
ble animal to come down on his forelegs again that she 
resumed "They say that I have been guilty of many 
mad pranks. What say you to our being measured for 
armor? That would startle the old fogies, would it not. 
and make them chicane us with renewed vigor?" 

I laughed. The idea was amusing to me. "The 
feudal times must have been glorious!" I exclaimed, 
however, anxious to turn the conversation back into 
safer channels, for any thought of "the old fogies" was 
sure to destroy her good-humor; "but it seems to me 
they are never well or fairly described, either by roman- 
cists, who mostly vilify them, or by historians, who do 
them scant justice." 

"You are quite right; it has often struck me, too. 
There is a strange spite against the aristocracy of the 
Middle Ages, and that of the present also, for that 
matter, in this enlightened period. It is sheer preju- 
dice, nothing else, for the hypocrisies, Jesuitisms, giant 

223 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

frauds, robberies, swindles, and other agreeable qualities 
of the middle classes and parvenus of to - day would 
give points to the boldest and most high-handed doings 
of the Rauber-Barons." 

This was so much my own opinion that I cried, delight- 
edly, "Yes, yes! the most amazing fancy of modernists 
is that low breeding purifies and blue blood stains; that 
the self-made man is invariably a hero, while to descend 
from a long line of valiant soldiers is, ipse-facto, to be 
devoid of common honesty, ordinary morals, or even 
so much as a conscience. It seems odd, does it not, that 
a man or woman who have inherited refinement and a 
high conception of honor from their ancestors should be 
the worse for it, and consequently selected as the stalk- 
ing-horses of vice and villany. Doubtless, there are 
very estimable and irreproachable parvenus, but that 
should be no reason to annihilate us en bloc!" 

The Empress laughed the gay, infectious laugh so 
peculiarly her own when she had for a few hours cast 
off the prevailing melancholy of her nature. 

' ' Estimable parvenus! I should think so. For instance, 
Peel, Baptiste Colbert, Napoleon I., Ney, and a hundred 
other brilliant encouragements to youths whose talents 
are superior to their station in life; but those all rose 
by worthy means. I think, talking of men who rise by 
worthy means, by energy and by mental force du poignet, 
that I should like to go and spend a few weeks in Amer- 
ica. That is the only republican country I ever ad- 
mired. A race which produced Audubon surely cannot 
produce regicides and anarchists!" 

"Perhaps you are right, although this is a novel view 
of racial characteristics," I replied, rather dubiously. 
"Of course, in America things may be different in that 
respect. One cannot pardon any one belonging to the 
old Nobility turning republican, although feudalism has 

224 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

now so nearly vanished, excepting here in Austria and 
in mine own Brittany ; yet it would not be right to sneer 
down a huge country like America for choosing its form 
of government, since it never had a king of its own." 

In spite of our talk we had ridden reasonably fast, 
and this exchange of ideas, which was brought back 
vividly to my mind under very different circumstances 
some ten years later, was interrupted by our entrance 
into the park of Laxenburg, which, in its late summer 
beauty of clustering blossoms, scattered by a soft breeze 
all over the turf, of climbing China-roses blotching the 
cool, green shadows with vivid color, and of huge, mag- 
nolia - like, metallic - leaved trees, where deep cups of 
waxy pink nestled, diffusing an intoxicating fragrance, 
admitted of no more dallying with dry political questions. 

The sun was just setting, and there was a rosy glow 
upon the lake, bathing it with a tender grandeur deep- 
ening each moment, and silhouetting the distant Donjon 
Keep of the Franzensburg, with its waving silken banner 
ripplingly profiled in bronze tints against the dazzling 
sky. As we rode past the rose-garlanded Meyerei, its 
diamond-paned windows sparkled with reflected fires, 
while the castle itself in this heavenly light looked like 
a dream edifice, or the palace of Arthur's beloved Avalon. 

Elizabeth leaned forward in her saddle, watching that 
feast of exquisite hues on land, sky, and water. 

"What a delicious place!" she exclaimed. "Oh, do 
look at that delicate mixture of pearl and amethyst 
on the lake, and the rich, warm pink of those last sun- 
rays glorifying the sombre ivy and the cold, gray stone 
carvings of the balconies ! It is perfect ! absolutely per- 
fect ! and I do not think it can easily be equalled. Let 
us ride to the Turnierplatz, and try to imagine that steel- 
clad Chevaliers are awaiting us there to fight in the grand 
old way for " the honor of their ladye," and that we are 
15 225 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

living in those fortunate times when far finer creatures 
than ourselves were led by four little words only: 
'L'Honneur parle; il suffit!' " 

The Turnierplatz, or Lists, on that superb evening 
looked to both of us just as if Rudolph of Habsburg 
himself, surrounded by a procession of knights in full 
armor, preceded by heralds, and followed at a long 
distance by the priests, the surgeons, and the terrible, 
sable-draped Todtenwagen, meant to bear away those 
killed in the encounter, was advancing to grace a tourna- 
ment by his noble presence. 

It was a moment when, in our imaginations at least, 
the brave days of chivalry were' revived, for the place 
truly had the perfume of ancient times, and was in as 
great a contrast with modernism as the grace and 
courtliness of manner of our ancestors is to the boorish, 
hail-fellow-well-met tone of to-day. 

"Ah!" exclaimed the Empress, as at last we turned 
our horses towards home, "Laxenburg is the only place 
which makes me feel better than I really am; it is so 
stately, so quiet, and so untroubled, so penetrated with 
old-world charm. A noble place, indeed ! One would not 
be surprised to see Duguesclin emerge from that leafy 
way yonder, or to encounter Roland striding through 
the dim and dewy fern-brakes to the edge of the lake 
where those lilies and forget-me-nots are growing. 
When I am a white-haired old woman I will come here 
to live in solitude, in order to close my dreamy existence 
by a last enduring dream of the beautiful past!" 

Poor Elizabeth! little did she think that her pure, 
noble dreams would be cut short, ignobly, brutally, by 
the foul hand of an anarchist, and that with her her 
husband's most cherished ones would be buried also. 

Among the latter stood pre-eminent, for years and 
years, the reconstruction of old Schloss Habsburg; for 

236 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

the cradle of his race, where his illustrious ancestor, 
Rudolph, first Emperor of his line, lived and loved and 
suffered six centuries ago, is to-day in alien hands, 
lying, as it does, in Switzerland, close to the German 
frontier, and many miles from Austrian territory. 

It was, indeed, one of Emperor Francis-Joseph's most 
heart-felt hopes to purchase and restore it ; but this was 
fated never to come to pass ; and to this day its splendid, 
half -ruined halls, its numerous rooms, and its long, wind- 
ing corridors are still used by the worthy Swiss to stable 
cows and pigs, while the apartment once occupied by the 
great Rudolph himself, and which alone, out of so many, 
is in an almost complete state of preservation, has been 
transformed into a Bier Schenke, where fat - cheeked, 
round-eyed Helvetic maidens dispense mugs of foam- 
ing ale and thick tumblers full of potato-brandy to rare 
tourists and frequent native consumers. 

Some years ago, having spent a portion of the summer 
in Tyrol, I felt tempted to travel on to Switzerland for 
the purpose of visiting Castle Habsburg. I, therefore, 
took train to Schintznach, in the lovely valley of the Aar, 
where I arrived on a superb September morning, rutilant 
with golden sunshine and fragrant with the intoxicating 
odor of millions of apples ripening in the great orchards, 
which are a distinct feature of the Canton d'Argovie; 
and, accompanied only by my old courier, I set off at a 
brisk pace up the melancholy and densely wooded hills 
which surround, on all sides, the crumbling towers of 
the grand old fortress I had come to see. 

Densely wooded, indeed, was the whole region, and the 
path we followed was cool with checkered shade, and 
crossed, occasionally, wild little forest streams or shal- 
low brooklets, gurgling, tinkling, and murmuring among 
velvet-clad stones, green as moss alone can be when it is 
very damp. 

227 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

I have a great weakness for narrow bridle-paths with 
rustling boughs meeting overhead, and borders of tall, 
moist-looking, lanceolated ferns, which shelter tiny, timid, 
pale-hued blossoms, hiding their delicate loveliness under 
emerald-tinted veils, as were it a sin to be beautiful! 

A clear, amber light fell through the aisles of the trees, 
and the track was so hedged in, and in places so overrun 
by wild-rose, honeysuckle, and dainty mauve harebells, 
that I had the to me always delightful sensation of its 
being quite easy to lose one's self in this delicious tangle. 

I walked onward, watching whole hosts of squirrels 
leaping from branch to branch, or knocking down fuzzy 
chestnut-burrs, which fell with a rattle, and were turned 
to green-gold by stray beams of the now rapidly ascend- 
ing sun. 

Far down in the valley bells were ringing their mid-day 
chimes, and the melodious sound rose soft and mellowed 
on the clear, pellucid air. 

At last we suddenly debouched upon a plateau of 
bluish granite, split here and there by the tenacious roots 
of wych-elms, and in the middle of which the crumbling, 
ivy-mantled towers of a once mighty castle cast black 
shadows upon a wide moat, where the round leaves of 
lilies and the sharp spikes of irises alone broke the mo- 
notony of slimy, stagnant, green-coated water. 

From the frowning battlements orange and brown- 
petalled gilly-flowers, pink-tufted Joubarbes, and flaming 
Ravenelles peeped forth, where once the pikes of men-at- 
arms had glittered, and out of the loop-holes, blackened 
by powder-stains centuries old, swallows were flying in 
joyful zigzags towards the pale blue of the sky. 

In spite of neglect, and of the heavy hand of time and 
of abandonment, the grim, forbidding pile of masonry 
had still, on that side at least, a stately, solemn aspect. 
In the silence, the stillness of that autumn day one felt 

228 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

humiliatingly small and insignificant, almost crushed, be- 
fore this great relic of dead-and-gone ages, which not 
even the power of an Emperor could reclaim, the Can- 
tonal Government which owns it having repulsed Fran- 
cis-Joseph's generous offers of purchase with curt refu- 
sals, heeding but little the sorry fact of this broken 
eagle's nest this once proud dwelling of sovereigns 
remaining forever in the rude grasp of cow-herds. 

Slowly I wended my way through the luxuriant net- 
tles and wild absinthe - plants growing knee - high all 
around, and, crossing the battered remains of the draw- 
bridge, I shuddered in the warmth of the sunlit Cour 
d'Honneur as my eyes fell on the destruction of this noble 
place, the heaped-up stones fallen from the thick, gray 
walls, and upon which ground-vines ran riot, the remnants 
of gorgeously stained glass still jaggedly adhering to 
the lancet window casements, and the tall watch-tower 
looking as if, wounded by many catapults and blasted 
and scorched by petronels, it would even now totter 
and fall were its strong corset of dark ivy torn from 
about its gaunt shape. 

At the sound of our footsteps a peevish-looking old 
man came out of a low postern-door and inquired our 
pleasure. He was the custodian of the place, as well as 
the vendor of the beer and brandy, bread and cheese 
partaken of by his customers in the oak-panelled room 
where once Rudolph von Habsburg had rested. Also, he 
was the proud owner of the cows, pigs, and cackling poul- 
try desecrating the audience-place, the banqueting-hall, 
and the noble, loftily arched Rittersaal, where knights 
had sat in council or at meat, under dim banners droop- 
ing from the blazoned ceiling above their plumed and 
helmeted heads. 

Upon our guide's uninviting countenance shone an ex- 
pression of proprietary pride as he led me from room to 

229 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

room, all and sundry pervaded by a heavy, nauseating 
stench of manure; and his yokel's surly laugh echoed 
under the groined roof of what had once been the chapel, 
when he pointed out massacred statues of saints, black- 
ened by the rains and snows of countless winters, which 
the searching winds each year blow more freely through 
widening fissures. 

From the crumbling battlements, upon which mine 
host prudently refused to follow me, the view is mag- 
nificent. 

Far and near I saw verdure-clad hills undulating be- 
tween green valleys, where the broad ribbons of streams 
sparkled in clear tints of blue and silver. A hazy radi- 
ance, created by sun-heat and distance, enwrapped the 
oak and birch woods extending to the horizon, with now 
and again the deep purple of pines marking islands of 
darkness on this murmuring, rustling sea of foliage. 

An infinite sense of peace emanated from those vast, 
unworn solitudes made up of century -old timber, of deep 
grasses, of the endless shade of towering firs, of torrents 
and tarns, and of realms upon realms of pure ether, in 
which vultures wheeled and blue herons sailed, uttering 
their resounding rallying cry. 

For a long time I leaned on the stone parapet of the 
watch-tower gazing upon the varying colors of land and 
cloud, upon the pure, transparent gray and rose of the 
western sky, towards which the sun was gently gliding 
and soon would sink, upon the green twilight of the deep 
gorges immediately beneath the rugged spur whereon 
the castle rose, and I let my thoughts wander to the dim 
days of the year 1020, when the Chevalier Radbot had 
built it, in concert with his brother, Arch Abbot Werner, 
and when the steel-clad followers of marauding Barons 
had swept up these rocky slopes, to be gallantly received 
upon the lance-points of its defenders. 

230 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Nothing was stirring around me save a flight of som- 
bre-pinioned birds no doubt some pertinacious de- 
scendants of the original Habsburg ravens circling high 
up in the air, above the dilapidated turrets at my left; 
and the mossy stones, the lifeless courts, and empty keep 
gathered a great dignity and an overpowering austerity 
from this very lack of sound and motion. 

Would this old place never be restored to its long-de- 
parted glory, this jewel of the past remain always in 
alien, desecrating hands? What mortification that the 
scene of so many grand and noble deeds should now 
echo nothing save the lowing of cattle, the grunting of 
pigs, or the hoarse curses or ribald jokes of drunken 
peasants ! 

I tried to reconstruct, for my own gratification, the 
long-forgotten days when this ruin had overflowed with 
active, joyful life; when the great apartments beneath 
my feet had been thrown open ; when servants, retainers, 
gayly clad pages, and brown-robed monks had passed in 
and out of them ; when merry hunting-parties had set off 
at the call of the huntsmen's silver horns, in pursuit of 
bear and wolf within the great forest ; when the setting 
sun had touched the bright folds of the Habsburg ban- 
ner floating above the watch-tower, originally built, if 
legend speaks truly, by Count Gontran le Riche, the 
Habichsgraf, and hosts of nobles had feasted before bat- 
tle in the banqueting-hall. 

A dull, half -conscious pain crept into my heart, and a 
bitter sense of depression made me shiver again as I 
awoke from this dazzling dream to all that was left of 
the teeming, crowded life which had disappeared forever 
awoke to the terrible pathos of so much that was lost 
with it and I mentally registered a vow to faithfully ac- 
quaint those to whom such knowledge was due of all I 
had seen that day. 

231 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

"Will it be of any use?" I said, half aloud, and then I 
descended the narrow, granite steps, worn thin by feet 
long resting underground, and made my way to the vine- 
grown arbor where I had left my own tired and aged 
retainer. 

Soon we were once more walking briskly through the 
forest. The sun was now quite low on the horizon, and 
its slanting rays showed blood-red between the boles of 
the trees. Behind us the ruins, that had been raised 
with hewn stone so many centuries before, towered fan- 
tastically against the evening sky, solemn and sombre ; 
beside the narrow wood-path a jagged tooth of lichen- 
grown stone, pierced here and there, through the under- 
growth, like some long - forsaken Breton Dolmen; and 
soon a romantic, silvery grayness replaced the golden 
splendor of the vanished sunbeams. 

As we went down the hill, amid the gathering dark- 
ness and the sobbing of the little brooks, the thought 
of what I had seen that day hung over me, in a vague 
oppression, like the shadow of something great which 
had passed away forever! 

When I returned to Vienna, Crown-Prince Rudolph, to 
whom I recounted my visit to Castle Habsburg, swore 
that he would overrule the obstinacy of the Swiss Gov- 
ernment; and, later on, he also undertook a trip to the 
Canton d'Argovie, under the strictest incognito, but his 
efforts, like those of his father, were, alas! barren; and, 
bitterly disappointed and saddened, he, too, went his 
way wondering. 



CHAPTER X 

To obtain a general view of a battle, or of a mist- 
wreathed mountain-summit, one does not follow the 
combatants into the turmoil or ascend the mountain- 
side, but, standing at a distance, one strives to pierce 
the mantle of cloud, whether it be due to the sulphur- 
ous reek of conflict or to vapors sun-drawn from the 
eternal snows, which, lifting here and drawing aside 
there, allows, in successive glimpses, the desired vision. 

The recorder of the life of a great sovereign must do 
likewise, be it said, in extenuation of the leaps and 
bounds by which I am forced to proceed, and also as an 
excuse for suddenly transplanting my patient reader to 
Paris in the early spring of 1864, when, beside the Seine, 
flashing onward, all silvered in the moonlight, under the 
illuminated bridges of the great city, from the leafy 
glades of the marvellous forest of Fontainebleau, towards 
the thickly wooded heights of St. Germain, the great 
chestnuts of the Tuileries gardens were just thrusting 
out their first green leaves through the resinous armor 
of their swollen buds. 

The Paris of those days, the palmiest of Napoleon III.'s 
Empire, was, as every one knows, fatiguingly light-heart- 
ed, merry, noisy, dazzling, brilliant, and re-echoing with 
the thrill of feverish laughter. Over this sea of jest and 
mirth Mabille scintillated, like a very Pharos, beckoning 
light-hearted navigators to a harbor of eternal f$te and 
never-ceasing gayety, and vied with La Chaumibre in the 
production of extraordinary revels. 

233 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

The palace of the Tuileries was thronged on this par- 
ticular spring night, for a great ball was being given in 
honor of the new Emperor and Empress of Mexico, 
brother and sister-in-law of Francis-Joseph of Austria, 
and a dense cohue of courtiers and other "general 
utilities" of that meretriciously glittering pseudo-court 
filled the enfilade of over-gilded salons, blazing with myri- 
ads of lights and heavy with the odor of hot -house flowers. 

In the Quadrille d'Honneur, with a wealth of rubies and 
diamonds crowning her red bandeaux and drooping curls, 
and a white, cloudlike dress billowing about her perfect 
figure, Eugenie moved gracefully, opposite a woman as 
dissimilar to herself as light is to dawn. 

Tall, slender, her magnificent neck and arms emerging 
from showers and cascades of black laces, the jessamine 
whiteness of her skin and the blackness of her tresses 
admirably set off by the ropes of pearls she wore in pro- 
fusion, and the pointed diadem of jewelled flowers sur- 
mounting her smooth brow, was Charlotte, Princess of 
Belgium, Archduchess of Austria, and since quite re- 
cently Empress of Mexico. 

She was dancing with Napoleon, but looked straight 
before her, her thin lips slightly parted in a half-smile of 
triumph and exultation, because she, too, like her sweet 
sister-in-law, Elizabeth, of whom she had always been so 
bitterly jealous, was now an Empress, and she occasion- 
ally allowed her sparkling black eyes to rest upon her 
tall, blond husband, who was Eugenie's partner, yet 
there was no saving shadow of love, gratitude, or tremu- 
lous, wifely pride in her regard to denote that he had 
not made his sacrifice in vain, only a harsh glitter of 
realized ambition and sated content. 

Ambition, indeed, was the leading passion of this 
memorable fete; for had not that powerful incentive 
alone brought together the reckless crowd of degenerate 

234 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

nobles who had soiled their escutcheons by condescend- 
ing to rallie themselves round Louis Napoleon ; of women 
who had bartered their blue blood for a rich marriage 
with some gilded Roturier of the second Empire ; of rather 
more than less compromised and shady male and female 
Bonapartes, whom one had now to address humbly as 
"Imperial Highnesses," and of whole shoals of daring 
adventurers, of suave ruffians, their breasts covered with 
exotic ribbons and orders, their lips grimacing with obse- 
quious smiles, while they delicately murmured evil, joy- 
ously destroyed myriads of reputations far fairer than 
their own, or spoke aloud sickening flatteries to those 
gullible enough to believe them ? 

A fit entourage this for Eugenie de Montijo, who just 
then was at the height of her beauty and of her triumph, 
and who imperiously, if not Imperially, had set her little 
Spanish foot on the neck of France, and ruled it as she 
listed; a fit entourage also for her pale-faced, waxed- 
mustached Consort, who now, censed with the purple in- 
cense of worship and of power, had, nevertheless, raised 
himself by very questionable means to this height from 
the quagmire of poverty and humiliation, in which he 
had so long vegetated. 

His friends accomplices, one is tempted to say had 
assisted him to the topmost rung of that ladder of craft 
with which he had for years attempted to escalade the 
Throne, and his immense tact for tact he possessed to 
a supreme degree enabled him to maintain his ill-bal- 
anced position. None could now deride, but all bowed 
before this doubtful Bonaparte, who had become the 
cloud-compeller of European politics. The wretched 
mesalliance I mean from the stand-point of policy he 
had made, not entirely for love, but faute de mieux (all 
marriageable Princesses and ladies of high degree and 
unblemished record, having, curtly and with touching 

235 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

unanimity, declined the questionable honor of sharing 
his Crown) had for a short while obscured his swiftly 
rising star; but in a very brief space of time thou- 
sands had capitulated before the surpassing charm and 
skill of the modern Aphrodite he had married, so that 
few were left to debate maliciously, as thousands had 
done, the sorry question of her origin, or to hint that her 
red-gold tresses and exquisite face and form had risen, 
not from pearly sea-foam, but from no one knew where, 
and that her pretensions to royal blood were, indeed, so 
one-sided that they should not really have been made a 
subject of such pride on her part. 

An acknowledged leader of Parisian fashions, Pari- 
sian ton, Parisian pleasure, and Parisian coquetterie, Sa 
Majeste I'lmpfratrice had but one thorn in her bed of 
roses, one pebble in her satin shoe, one regret in her nar- 
row soul namely, her hitherto lamentable incapacity 
to bring to terms the true, bona-fide, loyal, incorruptible 
French Nobility, who, reared under the formal etiquette 
of a Hereditary Monarchy, or simply fed upon the re- 
membrance of days when the sceptre was not a toy to be 
raffled for or seized and detained by the first-comer, had 
not permitted themselves to be vanquished by her fas- 
cinations or even touched by her loudly declared cult 
for Marie Antoinette. 

This severity, this intolerance, this inconceivable ob- 
stinacy and imbecile loyalty to a past regime and to 
antiquated ideas and principles, shocked and scandal- 
ized the fair and petulant interloper, who was the vic- 
tim of such absurd and rococo traditions; and, of a truth, 
it would tax all the sweetness and gentleness for which 
she was so unjustly famed to forgive such exiguity of 
mind when finally these uncomfortable people surren- 
dered at discretion as she did not doubt that they 
would do some day! 

236 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

If, at least, she had been able to treat de puissance-h- 
puissance with her husband's brother and sister sover- 
eigns, it would have consoled her a little for this deplor- 
able checkmate administered by the Faubourg St. -Ger- 
main, and even to a still greater degree by the provincial 
aristocracy; but, alas! she was too shrewd not to realize 
that, although forced by political considerations to recog- 
nize her presence on the Throne of France, yet that gen- 
uine queens and empresses, even her own Spanish Queen, 
Isabella, whose maid-of-honor she had been, regarded 
her with something akin to scorn, and looked upon her 
merely as the most attractive figure of a huge masquerade 
nothing more. A truly galling thought this for a very 
pretty woman, priding herself upon the extraordinarily 
patrician slenderness of her wrists and ankles ! 

What was her joy, therefore, when, after so many vain 
efforts and coquettings with foreign Courts and the an- 
cient Houses of the French aristocracy, she at length per- 
ceived an opportunity of making the most haughty and 
most superb of the Imperial dynasties of Europe recant 
its heterodoxy towards herself ! She had grasped eagerly 
at the chance of becoming the political sponsor nay, 
more, very much more than that the gracious hostess 
and devoted friend of one of its Archduchesses, whom 
French bayonets were, at her instigation, to elevate to 
the throne as Empress of Mexico. 

Snobbery is a dangerous defect, un joueur contre qui ne 
rien perdre est deja beaucoup gagner, and poor Eugenie, 
for all the pains she had lavished upon its satisfaction, 
had been hitherto rewarded with the blackest ingratitude 
some said with the direst contempt; but, of course, 
nobody in his or her senses uses ugly dictionary words 
nowadays, except when they are determined to go in for 
that most impolite of all virtues, truth. 

Charlotte was, to a certain extent, also a parvenue 

237 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

at any rate as an Empress. True, she was the legitimate 
daughter of a King, and the Consort of an Austrian Arch- 
duke, but her Mexican Crown was even more glaringly 
new than that of Eugenie. She realized perfectly that it 
perched but insecurely upon her silky tresses, and, in her 
effort to preserve its equilibrium, was especially prepared 
to resent any affront to her newly acquired dignity. She 
judged, moreover, her hostess to be far too presumptu- 
ous, and baffled all her blandishments and friendly ad- 
vances, arousing a hatred in the Spanish woman by her 
scarcely veiled disdain and nonchalant superciliousness, 
which, later on, was to cost her and her ill-fated husband 
dear. 

It must be confessed that Eugenie, who was a supe- 
rior "comedienne," concealed her injured pride and cruel 
mortification with admirable artifice. She did not for a 
moment allow her radiant smile to grow constrained, nor 
permit a flash of anger to redden her velvety cheek, in 
which effort she undoubtedly showed better breeding 
than did Charlotte, who, with the insouciance and amuse- 
ment of a spoiled child demolishing a costly toy, pierced 
the other's assumed purple in the most delicate and ag- 
onizing fashion, with a gleam of clearly noticeable malice 
pailleting her big, black eyes. She could not have said 
more clearly, if she had used words, "I am not in the 
mood to thus descend to your level, my fair lady " ; and 
Eugenie, in her priceless laces and jewels, her diaphanous, 
snowy draperies, her intoxicating beauty, swallowed the 
ashes of humiliation to the last cinder, without giving 
any sign of her disappointment and rage, but promising 
herself in-petto to be a merciless creditor towards her 
haughty antagonist when the reckoning day should 
come. 

The reckoning day came round sooner than even she 
had hoped, when, in far-off Mexico, under the calm, in- 

238 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

tensely blue tropic sky; under the full, relentless tropic 
sun streaming down on the parched earth, the cactus, and 
tangled chaparral ; in the sultry silence of early morning, 
broken only by the rustle of the wind in the dried grasses, 
Emperor Maximilian and his two companions in torture, 
General Miramon and General Mejia, stood erect and un- 
faltering before the peloton d'exkcution, outside the sinis- 
ter little cemetery crowning the hill at Queretaro. 

The debt was paid! Ah, yes! with usurious interest, 
a full and overflowing measure, when the once proud, 
magnificent, disdainful Charlotte, wearied from long 
travel, breathless in her agony, giddy with swiftly dawn- 
ing insanity, dazed and torn by fear, shame, and despair, 
cast herself at the feet of Napoleon, and implored him, by 
e^ery justice in earth and heaven, to succor before it was 
too late! too late! too late! the man he had sworn to 
protect; while cool and serene the now fully avenged 
Eugenie, almost doubting her senses, listened, not with- 
out feminine triumph, to the piteous wails of the crazed, 
wild, black-robed woman, crouching there upon the 
ground like a stricken animal, crying aloud, with the 
hoarse fierceness of unbearable misery: 

"You will not dare to let him die! He is an Austrian, 
not a Frenchman or a Mexican. He accepted the Throne 
of Mexico, not for his own gratification, but at my in- 
stance. Do your worst to me, but, by all justice, all pity, 
save him ! Do not let him die a dog's death out there in 
that cruel, brutal land of fire, assassination, and treach- 
ery!" 

In her madness she offered again and again to deliver 
up her own life for his, repeating her monotonous refrain, 
not to wait until it was too late! too late! too late! 
She had now no knowledge left save this no heed for 
whatsoever her bruised and shattered brain suggested 
they might do to her she, who had come so far to ob- 

239 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

tain help for her doomed husband, and piteously she re- 
peated again and again, " Save him, before he dies in that 
hell! Have you not mercy enough even to lift a finger 
to rescue him from the doom to which you have deliv- 
ered sold him? Let me die in his stead! I will never 
bid you spare me one pang, only save the life you and I 
have sent out to destruction!" 

At length her vehemence brought a fear upon those 
two Imperial adventurers, for if she judged that they, 
in their wanton cruelty, really were the murderers of her 
husband, she also clearly believed herself to be far more 
his destroyer, his evil spirit, the selfish, heartless counsel- 
lor whose limitless ambition had consigned him to mental 
and corporal torment; and in the crimson mists of her 
confused censes she suffered a torture which no human 
eye could witness undismayed. Their almost supersti- 
tious terror kept them from raising her, until her worn- 
out strength, her over-strained nerves succumbed, and 
she fell back, dead to all sentient life, to all remembrance, 
to all thought, her pride of nature, her beauty, her Im- 
perial ambitions, her love for domination, her hopes, 
her sufferings momentarily killed within her by this 
last and supreme blow their refusal to help her rescue 
him. 

Shortly afterwards, at a private audience at the Vati- 
can, whither she had gone, only to discover that here, 
also, there was no help for her husband, the last thread 
snapped. In the presence of the Holy Father her rea- 
son fled, and she was forever spared the tidings of the 
catastrophe which she had so dreaded. 

Years have come and years have gone, cold winters 
and burning summers, verdant springs and golden au- 
tumns have succeeded each other, but Charlotte, ex- 
Empress of Mexico, is still insensible to all physical and 
mental suffering, wrapped in a heavy, sullen darkness of 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

soul, worse a thousand times than death, and of which 
she gave the first signs at the Tuileries. 

Now and again the sound of a light summer breeze, 
ruffling the fanlike leaves of the palms brought out to 
embellish the gardens of the royal domain, half palace 
and half prison, wherein she vegetates, has wrenched 
from her a cry, awaking all the echoes of the vast, shad- 
owy park enshrouding her sinister abode a piteous wail 
which thrills and terrifies her keepers. She springs then 
to her feet, convulsed to passionate energy for a few 
fleeting minutes, and rushes forward, with her old cry, 
"Save him before it is too late! too late!" Then she 
laughs aloud, the laugh of a breaking heart, and quivers 
from head to foot, until, under their drooping lids, her 
eyes lose their feverish light, and she relapses into her 
icy calm her merciful oblivion. 

Does Eugenie, now discrowned also lonely, widowed, 
childless feel any remorse ? Does she, who has suffered 
as her so uselessly proclaimed heroine, Marie Antoinette, 
Queen of France, suffered, when the Crown was torn from 
her golden head, and she was submitted to the gibes and 
insults of the people, admit to herself how great was her 
responsibility in the events which in the end consigned 
Maximilian and Charlotte, one to an unjust and bar- 
barous death, the other to despair and madness? 

Some eight or ten years ago I chanced to visit the 
rooms of a certain historical society in a large city in the 
vicinity of New York. Approaching through the dusty 
roar of the main business street, with its trolley cars and 
lumbering throng of vehicles, I obtained admission by a 
dark hallway and staircase to a large, unkempt apart- 
ment, dim in the light of a cloudy day, that smelled of 
musty books. The place was crowded with books; they 
filled ranks of shelves, reaching nearly to the ceiling and 
occupying half the width of the floor space ; they lay upon 

6 241 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

tables, interspersed with a litter of papers; they reposed 
in dingy cabinets along the walls, which were hung with 
faded and grimy portraits; and through doors, opening 
this way and that, I could see into small, carpetless 
rooms, apparently overflowing with more books, pict- 
ures, and odds and ends of historical lumber. There 
were a couple of attendants, who appeared to be native 
to this dreary chamber, and one of them, while waiting 
upon me, directed my attection to a valuable souvenir. 
Hanging to a nail in the end of one of the row of book- 
shelves was a small, faded photograph, showing Maxi- 
milian, Archduke and Emperor, in his coffin, which had 
apparently been set upright on end for the convenience 
of the photographer. The body was absolutely un- 
clothed, except for a cloth about the loins, the eyes closed 
as in sleep, and the bullet -marks of the executioners 
showed plainly as dark, round spots upon the rigid form. 
An old and faded letter from the donor, who was appar- 
ently an enthusiastic partisan of Juarez, hung below! 

My eyes filled with tears as I turned away tears at 
the thought of the terrible sorrow that had fallen, so 
long before, upon the much-enduring man who still 
stands at the helm of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

So this was the end! His favorite brother, a man 
of the bluest blood in Europe, standing close in the 
succession to an ancient throne, young, high - souled, 
and chivalrous, sent out by a woman's whim to be mur- 
dered by half-bred savages, and dishonored in his death 
that the curiosity of the many might be cheaply satisfied. 

This loss was, indeed, to Francis-Joseph a sorrow and 
a bitterness that never wholly passed away. His other 
brothers were dear to him; but Archduke Ferdinand 
(Maximilian) had been dearer far. They had grown up 
together in a much greater intimacy than ever existed 
between him and the two younger Archdukes, Karl- 

242 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Ludwig and Lud wig- Victor. Indeed, the elder brother 
had felt always a sort of protecting tenderness for the 
simplicity of nature and the comparatively bodily del- 
icacy of Ferdinand. He had been strongly opposed 
to his accepting the Crown of Mexico, and, overruled by 
Charlotte's fiery will, had yielded only when Napoleon 
III. engaged himself, by a treaty signed at the castle 
of Miramar, in the spring of 1864, to leave an army of 
twenty-five thousand men in Mexico until the new Em- 
peror became able to gather together an equivalent force 
of loyal Mexicans and of foreign mercenaries. 

How this treaty was adhered to and what unwarrant- 
able and shallow excuses Napoleon made for breaking it 
is too well known to need repetition here. 

Francis-Joseph never forgave this flagrant breach of 
faith, and in 1870, when to have made common cause 
with France would have been to crush Prussia, and set 
Austria in her ancient place as leader of the German 
states, he held his hand rather than become the ally of 
the man who had abandoned his brother, with the result 
that the second Empire fell like a pricked bubble. 

Archduchess Sophia mourned her second son with a 
grief that time could do little to assuage, but those who 
knew her well saw that greater even than her sorrow for 
Ferdinand was the anxiety she felt for her first-born, 
whose poignant, conscience-stricken distress at having al- 
lowed his brother to enter into so perilous a contract put 
even his magnificent health in peril. She remained con- 
tinually by his side, tending him with her usual devotion, 
but accusing him in her innermost heart of morbidity, 
although she knew well that no man as active in duty 
and unsparing of himself as Francis-Joseph can be mor- 
bid; and that, moreover, bon sang ne pent mentir, even 
when one's conception of duty is too exalted, perchance, 
and one's capacity for family affections of almost too high 

243 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

an order; so she was not greatly surprised, after all, when 
the Emperor's steel nerves and perfect natural consti- 
tution reasserted themselves, and when he resumed his 
habitual, unceasing labor, resolutely, generously, and 
justly, and with the same success as before this blow 
had fallen upon him. 

After the first shock he gave no sign of the sense of 
deep bereavement and regret that weighed like a pall 
upon him, and haunted him so greatly that not even his 
reconciliation with his wife, which, as I have elsewhere 1 
recounted, had taken place just before their coronation 
as King and Queen of Hungary, during the very days of 
1867, when Maximilian was going through his long agony 
on the other side of the world, could console him. 

He took long rides and long walks alone during the re- 
mainder of that fateful summer, but the rest of the time 
he spent in unremitting application to his heavy task as 
Head of the turbulent Dual Empire and as Chief of the 
House of Habsburg. He forced himself to an even closer 
attention to his work, and sought out, with even greater 
eagerness, the smallest details concerning the welfare of 
the millions who depended on him, in order to escape the 
thoughts that bit deeply into his soul ; and soon the Im- 
perial Household, so long disturbed by the estrangement 
between the Emperor and Empress, then by the long 
and brilliant festivities of the Hungarian coronation, and, 
lastly, by the tragedy of Queretaro, resumed its former 
stately quiet, its routine of adamantine etiquette, as 
though these things had never been. 

Elizabeth had proved to him that a great love is as in- 
exhaustible in its mercy as the ocean, and as profound in 
its comprehension, and he found in her sweet presence 
and sympathy his greatest comfort. His mother's strong, 

1 The Martyrdom of an Empress. 

244 / 




"ERZSI," ARCHDUCHESS ELIZARKTH NOW PRINCESS OTTO 

VON WINDISCHGRATZ GRANDDAUGHTER OF THE EMPEROR 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

resolute spirit, perfect serenity in action, quick decision, 
if they had brought him one sorrow, had also spared him 
many troubles, fatigues, and disappointments, which 
would otherwise have been his. His children were 
strong, healthy, beautiful; and yet he looked at times 
weary, unhappy, much older than his thirty-seven years 
warranted, and there were threads of gray in his hair. 

The Emperor is never seen to greater advantage than 
when exercising his rights and privileges as omnipotent 
Chief of the grandest Imperial Family in Europe, but 
which, it must be confessed, is also one of the most diffi- 
cult to manage. 

Endowed with that winning tact, which is one of the 
most precious qualities a man can possess, and of an as- 
cendency he knew how to exercise even over those most 
opposed to him, he commanded the respect of each and 
every Habsburg of them all. 

Between him and Archduke Karl-Ludwig there was, 
however, a vague, intangible antagonism, veiled on his 
part under an admirable courtesy and kindness, and on 
his brother's by a none too clever assumption of indif- 
ference, for the latter did not always forbear from sar- 
casm and criticism of what he was wont to sneeringly 
call "His Majesty's advanced ideas." 

Of course, Karl-Ludwig had an unacknowledged re- 
sentment against the Emperor as the owner of all he con- 
sidered that he himself was far more fitted to possess. 

That the difference of three years in the date of their 
respective births should have given all to the elder one 
and nothing save wealth and the rank of Archduke to 
himself was a perpetual bitterness to him, and when he 
thought of it he almost hated the handsome, stately, 
chivalrous man, who towered immeasurably above him 
in every respect, and he watched him with the jealous 
suspicion of a narrow-minded man, everlastingly dread- 

245 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ing to find himself placed at a disadvantage, or unduly 
forced into the background. 

All this, of course, was more or less hidden under the 
polished serenity of high breeding; but, to a keen ob- 
server, it was not difficult to notice the consuming envy, 
the latent hostility, the barely slumbering enmity, be- 
trayed by a word, a glance, a mere accent of the voice of 
Blaubart, as Karl-Ludwig was called by the Viennese, 
in allusion to the frequency of his matrimonial ventures. 

To a lesser degree, for his nature is neither a strong 
nor a particulary bitter one, Archduke Ludwig- Victor was 
jealous of the unfeigned attachment of his subjects to the 
Emperor, of his good looks, of his social successes, of his 
mastery of all field sports, of his skill with horses, his re- 
markable intelligence, his wit, his daring, his magnificent 
record as a general and as a cavalry leader, in fact, of all 
the endowments and attainments which were somewhat 
lacking in himself, although, in justice to him, it must be 
said that this Archduke has never, for an instant, envied 
his brother either crown or sceptre, his ambitions run- 
ning in an entirely different groove. 

He, too, however, used to look often strangely at him, 
his eyes, of lightest possible blue, dwelling gloomily upon 
the Emperor, whom he considered to be the most brilliant 
and happiest of men, because all women were in love 
with him, his wife the most of all. 

The very kindness and generosity of Francis- Joseph 
made him feel insignificant and humbled, so that now 
and again a momentary sting of regret for his ill-feeling, 
touched Ludwig- Victor as he looked at the grave, some- 
times, of later years, decidedly stern, expression of that 
over-burdened man ; but, alas! the pleasures of the gayest 
and wittiest city in the world absorbed him so complete- 
ly, his butterfly - like dartings and flutterings amid the 
swarm of lovely women for which Vienna is so justly 

246 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

celebrated filled both his time and his brain so unceasing- 
ly, that he really had no opportunity to consider a matter 
so far beyond the pale of his happy hunting-ground as a 
better entente between himself and his Imperial brother. 

One evening, however, the rift within the lute acquired 
more serious proportions. There was a Ball-bei-Hof at 
the Burg, accompanied by all the pomp and magnificence 
which characterizes such festivities. The long and gor- 
geous figures of the second quadrille, which, at the Vien- 
nese Court, is always transformed into a cotillon, were in 
progress, and Archduke Lud wig- Victor was dancing it 
with a more than attractive young widow, possessed of a 
beautifully shaped person (which she exhibited as freely 
as etiquette permits), of a wealth of dark, glossy curls, 
and of dazzling jewels displayed lavishly upon her white 
skin. 

This fascinating lady was a saint neither by nature nor 
by habit, and, although she belonged to a family which 
was very Hoffahig indeed, she was not imbued with 
the pure, old traditions of gentle blood to the extent 
of foregoing the pleasures procured by singularly viva- 
cious flirtations, lively card-playing, and of two or three 
other peche's mignons of an even less innocuous charac- 
ter. In one word, she was really a little bit wicked 
just a little bit, hardly worth mentioning, but still enough 
to make her the object of cordial dislike on the part of 
the Emperor, the Empress, and the redoubtable Madame 
Mere (Archduchess Sophia). "I cannot imagine," the 
latter would say, acidly, to her daughter-in-law, "how 
such manners can be admired or even tolerated here," 
whenever she observed the slim, graceful figure of her 
bdte noire treading voluptuously the mazes of an in- 
toxicating waltz, or heard her quite unnecessarily shrill, 
tantalizing laugh echo under the sombrely superb, sol- 
emn ceilings of the Imperial Palace. 

247 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

On the night I mention, when Archduke Lud wig- Vic- 
tor led her out to take her place in the cotillon, the light 
of the gigantic rock-crystal chandeliers falling on the 
armor of diamonds, the immense court -train of bright, 
rose - colored satin, and the lace jupe that so well set 
off her lithe figure, the Emperor glanced at the pair with 
displeasure, and, turning to the Empress, who was stand- 
ing beside him, with her famous emeralds about her 
throat, in her glorious hair, and on her breast, and her 
long robe of palest pearl-hued brocade and silver tissue, 
looped up with clusters of Persian lilac over priceless 
laces the very embodiment of what an Empress should 
be he said, impatiently: 

"I think that this mutual attraction will have to cease. 
The woman's audacity is past all bounds; and, as to him, 
he is having his very soul turned inside out, like a glove, 
and will end by committing some irremediable piece of 
folly." 

Elizabeth had never looked fairer and lovelier than 
she did that evening, and there was so startling a con- 
trast between her and that past -mistress of all arts of 
provocation, that perfidious Vivien, dancing yonder, and 
who had set her cap at a man not physically or mentally 
very attractive, merely because he was an Archduke and 
wealthy, that he frowned as he watched the little rose- 
pink satin dame gaze up with visibly artificial adoration 
at her delighted cavalier. 

"You will find it difficult to disenchant him," Eliza- 
beth replied, quietly "She is very accaparente, and 
possesses attractions which, to an inflammable man like 
your brother, must be quite irresistible, if you pardon 
me for saying so." 

"That is what we are going to see," he exclaimed, 
angrily ; and as soon as the ball was over the Court of 
Vienna still retains many homespun virtues and retires 

248 



very early the Emperor sent for his brother, and gave 
him to understand, clearly and concisely, that under no 
circumstances could a marriage, even morganatic, be- 
tween him and his inamorata be countenanced. More- 
over, the finality of his tone, as he spoke, gave the im- 
pression that it would be easier to uproot mountains and 
pluck hills from their bases, like turnips, than for this 
decision to be ever reconsidered. 

In the perplexity and perturbation of the moment, 
Ludwig- Victor's whole intelligence was absorbed in the 
effort of concealing from the Emperor the real impor- 
tance of the promises he had allowed himself to make to 
the lady under discussion, and his rejoinders were un- 
wise. 

Finally, the Emperor, losing all patience, exclaimed: 

"Do not let us fence in this useless fashion. You must 
know, you must have seen that such an alliance if you 
are really simple enough to contemplate so impossible a 
step would be your ruin, in any and every interpreta- 
tion of the word. If I were to let you have your own 
way, even about what you wish me to consider as a mere 
flirtation, it would lead you into paths not pleasant to 
you or to us. Fortunately, it is difficult to attach much 
importance to your sentiments, for they are, as a rule, 
not remarkable for steadfastness and duration." 

Ludwig- Victor, embarrassed by the undeniable truths 
contained in these accusations, and fully conscious that 
it would be vain to controvert them, began to bluster 
something about the injustice displayed towards a wom- 
an who a woman that but was interrupted brusquely, 
and with an indignation from which a touch of hauteur 
was not absent ; and this galled the younger man so great- 
ly that he lost his temper and replied with considerable 
scorn and even insolence. 

The Emperor took, at first, no apparent notice of his 

249 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

words; but when he saw that his self-control had been 
also utterly lost in the affray, he suddenly stepped for- 
ward and said some few things which cut the Archduke 
to the quick, reminding him, among other things, of his, 
Francis- Joseph's, triple title to interfere with his actions, 
namely, those of elder brother, of Sovereign, and of 
military superior. 

" In conclusion," the Emperor said, sternly and bitter- 
ly, "I warn you that if you do not obey me I will give 
you some command in Southern Hungary or in North- 
ern Poland which will, I believe, cause an effectual break 
between you and a woman who, if I read her rightly, 
will scarcely sacrifice her comforts and pleasures to fol- 
low you to such regions. I knew you were singularly 
blind where women are concerned. I knew you were 
gullible ; but I did not realize the lengths to which your 
unbridled fancies would lead you, nor the amazing ex- 
tent of your fatuity. Moreover, if you do not wish to 
listen to harsher comments on your conduct, I will advise 
you to avoid our mother's presence for a few days. And 
now you can go," he concluded, in the same tone of curt 
command. 

The naked rays of an unshaded lamp shone on his feat- 
ures, displaying to the culprit an expression of inexora- 
ble severity and of extreme displeasure, and in the short 
silence that followed the echo of one sentence he had 
just heard reverberated in Ludwig- Victor's ears "on 
riepouse pas les femmes de cette sorte." He had been 
moved by it to an ecstasy of shame and fury, and, scarce- 
ly conscious of what he did, he took his leave, vowing 
to himself never to forget or to forgive what had just 
taken place. 

Reason, that calm, sad counsellor to which so few ever 
hearken, never effectively governed Ludwig- Victor with 
regard to his many entanglements, which, on more than 

250 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

one occasion, caused his brother serious anxiety, for the 
Archduke untiringly pursued extraordinary fancies, 
which several times he came perilously near to trans- 
forming into stern realities. The mere presence of a 
pretty woman made him entirely forget, for the time 
being, what he possessed of prudence, as well as his 
knowledge of the world, and of what the world demands, 
so that time and again he had to be rescued from the 
sacrifice and humiliation invariably entailed by misalli- 
ances even of a left-handed nature. 

The already overwrought and overworked Emperor 
was, therefore, ceaselessly worried and annoyed by the 
untiring self -surrenders of this guileless younger brother, 
whose one ambition was to love and to be loved, and who 
could not permit such feelings as his to be trodden by 
the cloven hoof of worldly considerations. Truly, in 
this instance, the proverb which says, "Happy are the 
loves of the simple of heart," proved discouragingly un- 
true. 

He had learned, however, to dread the lightning of his 
elder brother's eyes, which followed his airy gyrations 
with the repressed passion of a strong man controlling 
his scorn for what he absolutely disapproves and cannot 
comprehend; but the antagonism which, ever since the 
night of their first encounter on this subject had taken 
the place of a feeble and harmless jealousy, proved an- 
other thorn in Francis-Joseph's plentifully armed crown. 

The gilded and jewelled trappings of sovereignty are at 
times a heavy yoke, and as year followed year the om- 
nipotent Ruler of Austro-Hungary felt the weight of his 
splendid harness weighing more and more on his shoul- 
ders, the turbulent younger members of the Imperial 
Family contributing not a little to this discomfort, and 
occasionally rendering his duties as Chief of his House 
even more difficult than those he owed to the State. 



CHAPTER XI 

WITH his brothers and sisters-in-law the Emperor 
stood on the very best of terms, even with the charm- 
ing Princess, afterwards Princess von Thurn und Taxis, 
who had seen her younger and more fascinating sister 
preferred to herself by him, and who might reasonably 
have been suspected of a little rancor and coldness 
where he was concerned. 

Queen Maria-Sophia of Naples, for instance, always 
was, and still is, a great and valued friend of Francis- 
Joseph's, and often, in moments of trouble, has he sought 
the advice of that extraordinarily level-headed woman, 
whose romantic story would alone furnish the material 
for a volume. 

Queen Maria-Sophia, although by no means as abso- 
lutely beautiful as her sister, the late Empress, was a 
strikingly lovely woman. Tall and slender, and auburn- 
haired, admirably gifted and talented, and, besides this, 
possessed of a courage which cannot be designated by 
any other word than that of absolute heroism, she was, 
and will remain at all times, one of the most notewor- 
thy personalities of the nineteenth century; nay, one 
might go further than that, for, even when reading the 
dust-flecked pages of ancient parchments and black-let- 
ter records, one does not encounter in any descriptions 
of those great queens who have long ago passed from 
this world a superior to this remarkable woman. More- 
over, she joins to the beauty and graciousness of 
dainty womanhood the strength of character, the quick- 

252 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ness of decision, and the indomitable pluck which is 
generally supposed to belong exclusively to the stronger 
sex. It might be added to this truthful and by no means 
overdrawn eulogium, that Maria-Sophia is also the most 
modest and unassuming Royal Lady in existence, a 
fact which was abundantly proved when it was dis- 
covered that it was really she who, during the short but 
terribly eventful period during which she was de facto 
Queen of Naples and of the two Sicilies, played the noble 
part which ought by right to have been the privilege and 
pride of her self-indulgent Consort. A few short para- 
graphs are, however, lamentably inadequate to give even 
a hint of the series of tragedies which fell to Maria- 
Sophia's share, or to do her such justice as she deserves. 

Everybody knows that King Ferdinand II. of the 
two Sicilies, much perturbed by the growing agitation 
which made itself felt in 1858, and which even his iron 
hand seemed no longer able to repress, conceived the 
idea of opening negotiations concerning a matrimonial 
alliance for his son, the Duke of Calabria, afterward, 
during less than two years, King Francis II., thinking, 
perchance, that he could strengthen his own position by 
binding his family yet more closely than it already was 
(his second wife, Maria-Theresa being an Austrian Arch- 
duchess) to the powerful house of Habsburg. He there- 
fore asked for the hand of young Princess Maria-Sophia, 
daughter of Duke Maximilian, in Bavaria, and, as I said 
before, the much -loved sister of Empress Elizabeth of 
Austria. 

Indeed, when all negotiations about this matter had 
been satisfactorily brought to a conclusion, it was Em- 
press Elizabeth herself who accompanied the fair bride 
as far as the Neapolitan frigate which was waiting in 
the harbor of Trieste, and who handed her over to the 
special Ambassadors sent by King Ferdinand to escort 

253 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPI.RE 

her to Ban, where her young Consort was awaiting her. 
I use the word Consort designedly, for a marriage by 
proxy the last one of these mediaeval survivals to occur 
in Europe had taken place at the bride's palace of 
Munich on January 8, 1859, Prince Luitpold of Bavaria 
representing the bridegroom, whilst the official cere- 
mony only took place at Bari on the third of February 
following. 

On February 2nd, the frigate Fulminante brought 
Maria-Sophia and her suite safely to the harbor of Bari, 
where she was received with a great deal of enthusiasm 
and much public rejoicings. 

Unfortunately, this great occasion was somewhat sad- 
dened by the fact that the King was lying dangerously 
ill from a mysterious malady, which all his friends and 
retainers attributed to his having been poisoned by some 
agent of his numerous enemies during his trip from his 
capital of Naples to Bari. So serious, indeed, was the 
aged Monarch's condition that the departure of the royal 
party from Bari was postponed until March 7, when 
the dying King, together with the Queen and the young 
Duke and Duchess of Calabria, boarded the Fulminante 
and sailed for Naples. 

In spite of the King's condition, there were numerous 
and magnificent fetes given by the Neapolitans to wel- 
come their future King and his bride ; and it is a tragical 
and pathetic thing, indeed, to think that whilst the 
streets, the parks, and palaces of beautiful Naples were 
strewn with flowers, filled with music, and gay with 
fluttering flags, within the great dusky Palazzio of 
Caserta, the father of the radiant young couple, for 
whom all these demonstrations were being made, was 
lying on a bed of sufferings so great that they amounted 
to absolute bodily torture. 

This man of iron, whose adamantine will-power had 

254 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

held so long in subjection his eleven millions of sub- 
jects, and who had been called by many a cruel despot 
and tyrant, now tossed on his richly broidered pillows 
under the high - plumed canopy bearing the arms of 
his House, mumbling agonized prayers to Almighty 
God, craving pardon for his sins, and pouring out heart- 
rending entreaties and supplications for a prolon- 
gation of existence and a diminution of his dreadful 
torment. 

Of course, nobody dreams of attempting to condone 
the governmental methods of King Ferdinand II., for 
his name has remained a by-word throughout Italy to 
this very day. But, nevertheless, had it not been for 
his wife, the ambitious, autocratic, and unscrupulous 
Queen Maria-Theresa, his extreme and superstitious 
piety might have served to preserve him from a course 
of policy that has rendered him unenviably celebrated 
in history for cruelty and hardness. 

Whatever his crimes may have been, however, he 
received a punishment fully adequate to their greatness, 
when he, who had ruled with a rod of iron, and, as re- 
marked above, with a despotism that was wholly medi- 
aeval, was thus cruelly stricken down. 

His one comfort during these days of terrible affliction 
came from the presence near him of his young daughter- 
in-law, to whom he became deeply devoted, and it was 
at his bedside that she learned to be the wonderful nurse 
who, in besieged Gaeta, a few months later, tended with 
fearless energy the unfortunate soldiers of her husband's 
army, writhing under the pitiless lash of typhus and 
cholera, in addition to their cruel wounds. 

To Francis- Joseph, too, in later years, when, discrowned 
and vanquished, she had forever left the land where she 
had so bitterly suffered, and when she had joined the 
ranks of those Rois en exile described with more tal- 

*S5 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

ent than mercy by Alphonse Daudet, she was a true 
and loyal counsellor and a tender-hearted sympathizer. 

For long years the ex-Queen of Naples lived in Paris 
with her husband, who, poor fellow, was so imbued 
with the belief that his former subjects yearned for his 
return, and would one day call upon him to resume his 
crown and sceptre, that for a long time he declined to 
buy or even lease a house, insisting upon living at a 
hotel, so as to be ready for instant departure if sum- 
moned to reascend his throne ! 

He died, after more than thirty years of exile, and 
as he left no issue his only child, a little girl, having 
died at Rome shortly after his deposition his claims 
and pretensions have now passed to his half-brother, 
Don Alfonso de Bourbon, Count of Caserta, who makes 
his home at Nice. 

Humiliated for many years by grievous monetary 
troubles as well as by countless other irritating sorrows 
and disappointments, the ex-Queen was relieved of 
financial worries, at least, by the considerable fortune 
left to her by her mother, Duchess Ludovica, in Ba- 
varia, and, being passionately fond of horses, like her 
sisters, Empress Elizabeth and the Duchess of Alen- 
con who perished so heroically in the Charity Bazaar 
fire at Paris she was at length able to indulge this 
taste to the full, and became well and flatteringly 
known on the French turf, where her racing colors 
were often successful, under the pseudonym of "Count 
Isola." 

Maria-Sophia is, moreover, the only woman who has 
ever received the Russian Order of St. George, a dis- 
tinction conferred only for acts of altogether exceptional 
bravery under fire, and which Czar Alexander II. sent 
her, in recognition of the splendid part she played in the 
heroic defence of the fortress-town of Gaeta, the last 

256 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

stronghold of the kingdom of Naples, in 1 860-61, against 
the followers of Victor-Emmanuel. 

To-day, in spite of her sixty-two years, she is still a 
very fascinating personality. Her small, proud head is 
crowned with a wealth of slightly silvered braids, her 
form is still erect, under the weight of pain and sorrow 
that it has borne for so weary a period of time, while a 
great deal of the grace and beauty of her lovely woman- 
hood remains with this lonely, dethroned Queen. 

With his brother-in-law, Prince Karl - Theodore, in 
Bavaria, the great oculist and philanthropist of whom 
so much has been said and written, the Emperor has 
always been on the friendliest of terms, and he has, on 
several occasions, made large donations to the princely 
Hospice where the poor receive such care and kindness 
at the hands of Karl-Theodore and of his charming and 
devoted wife that Hospice where no more mundane 
sound than the ripple of the lake-water below is heard, 
or that of the little brooks dashing onward in the green 
twilight of the woods, and across meadows lying like 
plates of emerald below great, dark belts of Alpine firs, 
drooping Siberian pines, and eternally shivering larches, 
and which must, indeed, seem an earthly paradise to 
the poor wretches who recover hope, health, and sight 
at the same time in this pure, wholesome, beneficent 
atmosphere. 

My great regret is that I cannot, alas, devote the 
necessary space to a separate sketch, even of a very 
succinct kind, concerning the most important members 
of the House of Habsburg, or of the various tribulations, 
joys, or difficulties which they contributed in turn to 
Francis-Joseph's long and arduous existence. Suffice it, 
therefore, for me to specially mention two members of the 
Imperial Family, two loyal subjects of his most Catholic 
Majesty, Emperor Francis- Joseph of Austria, who, during 
' 257 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

the course of those many long years, caused him naught 
but happiness namely, his old father, and Archduke 
Rainer, his favorite cousin. 

Dear old Archduke Franz-Karl! It is not so many 
years ago that his carriage, drawn by six gorgeously 
caparisoned Spanish mules, still aroused the delight of 
all children, aristocratic or plebeian, who saw it pass at 
a quick trot along the road to Schonbrunn, accompanied 
by the shrilly sweet music of its silver-belled harnesses ! 

Endowed with a temperament so felicitous that it en- 
abled him to find innocent pleasure and enjoyment every- 
where, he delighted in doing kindnesses to everybody; 
and to see him gayly trotting up and down under the 
shadow of the trees in any of the Imperial parks, lean- 
ing on his gold-headed cane, and smiling on all the world 
with his serene, blue eyes, was, indeed, a sight to drive 
away dark thoughts and depression from one's mind. 

His passionate attachment to his son was not the least 
touching of his many winsome traits of character, for 
this attachment was never marred by the very faintest 
taint of jealousy. Indeed, he always took particular care 
to remind him, with a merry chuckle, that he, Archduke 
Franz-Karl, was the very first and foremost, as well as 
the most obedient and devoted, of his subjects. And in 
saying this he was perfectly serious beneath his jesting 
manner, for he was monarchical to the very backbone, 
believed absolutely and blindly in the Divine Right of 
Rulers, and was as strong a Royalist as ever breathed. 
God bless his kindly memory ! 

During the last years of his life, he spent a portion of 
every summer at Ischl and Gmunden, those two prim 
and poetical, picturesque and gay little Upper- Austrian 
towns, which are the ideal of what such pleasure resorts 
should be and so rarely are. 

Gmunden is within easy reach of Ischl, and is the love- 

258 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

liest little Ville d'eau imaginable, mirroring, as it does, 
its many beautiful villas and palaces in the deep, green 
waters of the celebrated Gmundner, or rather Traun-See, 
to give it its geographical name. 

In the late seventies, the flower cor so was instituted 
there, and this turned coquettish Gmunden every year 
into a veritable fairy city for a whole summer week at a 
time, and shook it completely from its shadowy, slum- 
bersome impassibility, for Court and society alike took 
an active part in these fetes, and no one more actively 
than the old Archduke. 

It would be an almost impossible task to attempt to 
give by means of pen and ink an adequate idea of the 
picture presented by the luminous lake when crowded 
with hundreds of flower-laden boats, skirls, and canoes. 
This marvellous sheet of water, in spite of its generous 
dimensions, seems but a huge gem, surrounded as it is on 
all sides by towering mountains, from which waterfalls, 
white with perpetual foam, rush to meet the sparkling, 
translucent surface below. 

In the dim distance, the silvery gray of glaciers and 
the aerial blue of crevasses overhang sombre forests, 
which terminate on the sloping shore in a tangled wilder- 
ness o"f ferns and flowers. 

With such a background it is hardly wonderful that 
these flower corsos should have been one of the most ex- 
quisite sights that one can imagine! 

They always began at four o'clock in the afternoon, 
and were frequently opened by Archduke Franz-Karl in 
person. He was the first to assail all passing vessels with 
fragrant missiles taken from the enormous provisions of 
daintily colored ammunition, heaped up upon the prow 
of his own gorgeously decorated gondola a gondola 
which, by the way, could have easily hauled aboard a 
score of the black-painted, gracefully shaped skiffs which 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

perpetually glide hither and thither on the peaceful bos- 
om of the Grand Canal at Venice, and of which he had 
been so fond of making use when Austria still ruled in 
Northern Italy. 

The last time I had the honor and pleasure of seeing 
the aged Archduke was just after a great Court ceremony 
which, quite against his usual custom, he had attended, 
the Emperor having expressed a regret that his august 
father should so obstinately shun all state occasions. 

As I have often remarked, no Court of Europe has 
retained to such an extent all the pomp and ceremony 
of past and gone centuries as that of Vienna, and the 
consequence is that its functions always constitute a 
very unique, picturesque, and stately spectacle. 

The one I am alluding to was the official reception by 
the Emperor of a new Spanish Ambassador, and certain- 
ly was no exception to the rule. The Ambassador and 
his suite were fetched from the embassy in three of the 
Emperor's state carriages by the Assistant Master-of -trie- 
Horse, and as that containing the Ambassador entered 
the court-yard of the palace, the regiment on duty turned 
out and rendered military honors. In the first ante- 
chamber the new Envoy was welcomed by the Grand 
Master-of -the-Ceremonies, while in the next room he 
was received by the Grand Chamberlain and by the Em- 
peror's Aide-de-Camp. The Grand Chamberlain there- 
upon announced the Ambassador to the Emperor, and 
opened to their full width the folding doors leading into 
the Imperial Presence-Chamber those doors which play 
so great a part in diplomatic and Court etiquette, since 
only two out of the four folds are opened for an ordinary 
Minister Plenipotentiary, while for a Secretary of Em- 
bassy but one fold is opened when the latter is admitted 
to the presence of the Emperor. 

After handing his letters of credence to the Monarch, 

260 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

with the customary three profound bows, the Ambassa- 
dor was permitted to present to him the members of his 
suite, and, after about ten minutes' stay, withdrew, with 
equal ceremony. 

As I just said, it was immediately after this pageant 
that I encountered the old Archduke, most ruefully 
shaking his white head, and was informed by him that 
' ' Franz ' ' was making most arbitrary use of his sovereign 
powers in ' ' commanding ' ' an old hermit like himself to 
be present at such wearisome moments. 

I laughed heartily, as may be imagined, at which he 
affected to be greatly angered, and, flourishing his gold- 
headed cane menacingly at me, exclaimed, with an 
irresistible twinkle in his wonderfully youthful eyes, 
' ' Do you know, Madame, that I have almost promised 
in my weakness to attend the Ball-bei-Hof, which takes 
place this evening? It is all very well for a baby, like 
you, to be amused by such gayeties, but a venerable 
great-grandfather, such as I am, sings a very different 
song!" and, pinching my ear, a trick which he claimed 
to have inherited from his "dear friend" Napoleon I., 
he pirouetted on his heel, quite a la Louis - Quatorze, 
and left me, still laughing, to watch him from a window 
enter his amazing mule-drawn equipage and drive off, 
amid the cheers and delighted comments of the people 
assembled to see the procession of great personages and 
high dignitaries leaving the Hof-Burg, and who fairly 
adored him. 

That night, the Empress being absent, her place was 
taken by Archduchess Maria-Theresa, who, besides the 
distinction of being the Sovereign's sister-in-law, pos- 
sesses that of having been burdened at her christening, 
in defiance to the very reasonable wishes of her late 
father, ex-King Miguel of Portugal, with the rather com- 
plex and confusing cognomens of " Maria-Theresa-de- 

261 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

I'lmmacule'e - Conception - Ferdinande - Eulalie - Leopold- 
ine-Adelaide-Isabelle-Charlotte-Michaella-Raphaele - Ga- 
brielle - Fran9oise-d'Assise-et-de-Paule - Gonzague - Inez- 
Sophie-Bartholome'e-des-Anges " which is a rather cum- 
bersome array, especially if one is in a hurry and should 
consider it necessary to describe her by her full appella- 
tion! 

Archduchess Maria-Theresa (we will dispense with cer- 
emony and give her just the customary two names, out 
of the twenty or so, which are meant for familiar use!) 
seemed as if she by no means mourned the fact of the 
Empress's absence. It is well known that Maria-The- 
resa enjoyed nothing better than to be temporarily the 
first lady in the land, and her smiling countenance and 
extremely gracious behavior showed very plainly that 
this impression was correct. 

It cannot be denied that her personal appearance is 
calculated to make her just the .grand, proud figure 
which one associates with the idea of an Imperatrix, but 
still, whenever a Ball-bei-Hof used to take place with- 
out our beloved Kaiserin occupying her post beside the 
Emperor, we felt a blank which nothing could fill, and 
our most loving thoughts turned to the lovely Sovereign 
whom we missed so greatly. 

Maria-Theresa wore a magnificent gown of creamy 
satin, so thick and soft at the same time that it rip- 
pled about her like blades of light. It was entirely 
overlaid with antique lace, of remarkable artistic value, 
and was further enhanced by fine, pale, silver and crystal 
embroideries, of so delicate a design and so exquisite a 
workmanship that they gave one the impression of being 
mere shimmering frostings, due to Father Winter's deco- 
rative fingers. Enormous sapphires and row upon row 
of diamonds completed this toilette, the gigantic Court 
mantle of which was strewn with knots of orchids in the 

262 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

most ephemeral of tints, intermingled with beautiful 
brilliants, set dewdrop fashion. Above the coronal of 
heavy braids with which the Archduchess always crown- 
ed her small, patrician head, in imitation of the Em- 
press, scintillated a triple circle of priceless sapphires 
and diamonds, shaped like a slightly pointed arch, and 
terminated at the topmost curve by a unique pearl of 
such unusual lustre and size that it is known by every- 
body as Le joyau de VArchiduchesse. 

As always, the uniforms of the officers, Court officials, 
and great Magnates were dazzling, the Emperor, who 
wore that of a cavalry general, being among the simplest. 
Margrave Pallavicini wore the grand costume of a Knight 
of Malta, whereas Count Harrach had donned the pict- 
uresque garb of the Teutonic Order. 

There were many Hungarian Nobles, towering above 
the crowd of white shoulders, and whose dark and hand*- 
some heads were wonderfully set off by the rich fur- 
trimmed velvets and gleaming jewels of their Tracht, 
the Polish Seigneurs also, covered with priceless jewels 
and wrapped in costly, shimmering stuffs, added to the 
semi-barbaric coup-d 'ceil. 

Just as we were watching a crowd of lovely young 
girls waiting to be presented, and who, according to 
the Emperor's own saying, made one think of a "flight 
of snowy butterflies about to take wing," Archduke 
Franz-Karl whispered to me: 

"My life and joy no longer shine in women's eyes, 
Heaven be praised! else my danger would be great in 
such a temple of beauty! Look at them, the old and 
the young, all distractingly lovely!" and he gave his 
little, low chuckle of kindly malice. "Assuredly some 
modern alchemist must have rediscovered Ninon de 
1'Enclos' beauty potion, for even my contemporaries 
themselves have still such lovely figures, such bloom, 

263 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

such very brilliant eyes, that we must take it for granted 
they possess a secret to avoid old Father Time's tri- 
umphal car of Juggernaut." 

"The expediency of our sex is not to be disputed," I 
replied, demurely. "It is a quality which has reached 
now the highest point of cultivation with us. Time and 
sorrow and wear are distanced and successfully kept at 
bay where beauty is concerned ; but men should be satis- 
fied with the results, and not pry into the secret of the 
means." 

"Miraculous, no doubt!" he replied in the same ban- 
tering tone; "but why thus take fire in defence of whit- 
ened sepulchres? Must I gather from this that your 
sixteen years, or is it seventeen surely, you cannot 
already be so aged are the mere result of a secret de 
beaute?" 

How well I remember his delight at this little joke of 
his, and what mischievous joy he took in teasing me, 
who, of course, considered myself already most matronly, 
but not quite, quite sufficiently so as not to still bitterly 
envy the maturer charm, caustic wit, and superb arro- 
gance of women twice and even three times my age, 
who had so much of the knowledge I then lacked, and 
who often looked at me with the little smile of indul- 
gent but very galling pity which the thorough -paced, 
experienced, long -broken -to -harness women of the 
world feel for the still childish being who is so lamen- 
tably deficient in the years that have made them what 
they are namely, redoubtably perfect and imposing 
grandes dames. 

In those days queenly Archduchess Elizabeth inspired 
me with awed admiration. She was fortunately for 
her, I thought then, but have altered my opinion since 
decidedly on the wrong side of forty, but, apart from 
being a most remarkable and sagacious woman, extraor- 

264 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

dinarily clever, wise, learned, and possessing a knowl- 
edge of statesmanship seldom equalled by men, and 
which her charming daughter, Queen Maria-Christina of 
Spain, in a great measure inherited, she was still a very 
beautiful woman, without the aid of any secret de beaute. 

Very tall, with a singularly harmonious and reposeful 
bearing, large, calm, proud, meditative eyes, an exceed- 
ingly fair skin and delicately chiselled features, she was 
also what one may term as de ban conseil ; and the Em- 
peror, who not only was her cousin, but whom she had 
always dearly loved, consulted her whenever he was met 
by a new difficulty or a particularly vexatious question. 

She had, moreover, the rather unique privilege of 
being trebly an Austrian Archduchess which to my 
young judgment was a privilege indeed for she was 
the daughter of Archduke Joseph Palatine of Hungary, 
had married first Archduke Ferdinand, younger brother ' 
and heir of the last Sovereign-Duke of Modena, and, 
after some two years of widowhood, had united herself 
with Archduke Charles - Ferdinand, son of Archduke 
Charles, the famous cavalry leader of the Napoleonic 
wars and the hero of the battle of Aspern. 

Certainly, this treble Archduchess was one of the hand- 
somest women in Austria, and one of the most respect- 
ed and reverenced; and to see her as she was that 
night, in a Court dress of dark blue velvet, embroidered 
with silver lilies, and wearing a regal wealth of wonderful 
old jewels dating back to the time of Mary of Burgundy 
and of Empress Maria-Theresa, was in itself a lesson in 
stately deportment. 

Archduke Franz-Karl admired her immensely, too, 
and we both remained silent as we watched her cross 
the dazzlingly illuminated Redouten-Saal, leaning on the 
arm of Archduke Rainer, another magnificent specimen 
of Habsburg nobility, a gallant, courageous, generous 

265 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

gentleman, beloved by all who know him, and whose 
name has long since become a synonym for limitless 
kindness and grand, old-fashioned courtesy. 

Very tall, too, and very soldierly -looking is Archduke 
Rainer, and from none does the Emperor sooner seek 
advice upon military questions than from him. He 
is one of the most erudite princes in Europe, and 
Austria is indebted to him for the creation of Vienna's 
superb Museum of Art and Sciences, and for that of 
many similar institutions throughout the Empire. In- 
deed, this devotion to science and to art induced him 
to travel a great deal incognito, and, in spite of his 
enormous wealth, in the simplest and most unostenta- 
tious fashion, mostly accompanied by his charming wife, 
who is so devoted to him that she never feels happy 
for a moment when absent from his side. 

Thus they visited Egypt, Algeria, Greece, Spain, and 
many other interesting lands, from which they brought 
back the enormous collections of priceless curios which 
fill their gorgeous palace at Vienna. 

Of course, such a mode of travelling caused the Arch- 
ducal couple to meet with some strange adventures. 
One, indeed, in which a young American tourist plays a 
conspicuous role, deserves to be set down here, if only 
for the glimpse it affords of Archduke Rainer's ever- 
present politesse de coeur. 

While sitting on the veranda of a Swiss hotel, a few 
years ago, the Archduke, who, of course, was in mufti, 
was suddenly accosted by a well-dressed young man, 
who was perusing a pile of both English and American 
newspapers, in the following fashion: 

"I heard you speaking English yesterday, and as it's 
a relief to me to converse in a language that I can 
understand, I made up my mind, when next I had the 
chance, to have a chat with you." 

266 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

The Archduke bowed courteously, and awaited with 
admirably concealed amusement what would follow this 
singular entree en matiere. 

"My word," continued the young man, "Europe is 
disappointing, isn't it? Now, in America we have scen- 
ery which beats these snow-mountains over there hollow, 
even at sunset, as at present, when the very waiters are 
so proud of their Alpengluk, as they call it; to me they 
look like strawberry and vanilla ice-cream, heaped too 
generously, and not very artistically, in a green, wooden 
cup. Don't you think so?" 

"Well," replied the Archduke, who had but vaguely 
understood this striking comparison, "you see, I am 
sorry to say, that I have never visited America, and so 
I have to be content with plain little views like this one." 

" Never been across the pond ? You don't say! But 
you are laughing at me, perhaps? I can assure you that 
we have mountains and lakes and trees that take the 
shine completely out of that sort of thing yonder. I'm 
going to do Europe thoroughly, nevertheless, now that I 
am here. From this place I'm going over to Austria; 
they say that Tyrol is fine. Well, we'll see. I'm curi- 
ous to meet the bigwigs in Vienna ; one of my best friends 
was Secretary of our Legation there, and he told me that 
the aristocracy and the Imperial Family are extremely 

gay-" 

This announcement was perhaps not of the most 
apposite, and might, moreover, have set the teeth of 
any other Habsburg Prince than Archduk.e Rainer on 
edge, but there was something so pleasing in the frank, 
genial, unconventional manners of the young man that 
no offence was taken, even when he quietly proceeded 
to confidentially inform his smiling interlocutor that he 
had heard the most dreadful reports with regard to the 
immorality of the Habsburgs, and denounced almost 

267 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

every scion of this Imperial House, from the Emperor 
downward, as being "blown black and blue by nor'- 
westers," which, he explained, meant to be quite lament- 
ably off color! 

Archduke Rainer, who had listened imperturbably, 
continued blowing smoke rings from his Havana into 
the pure Alpine air, and mildly remarked, without dis- 
puting, however, or in any way taking up the cudgels 
of defence, that he had never heard of these things be- 
fore, although he himself was a native of Vienna, and 
concluded this discreet speech by expressing a cordial 
hope that his "Young friend" would not find the pretty 
Austrian capital quite so bad as it had been painted. 
Then, emerging with a pleasant smile from his halo of 
smoke, he bowed again in the friendliest way, and saun- 
tered down a path leading to the lake. 

The young man looked after him slightly puzzled. 
This tall, commanding, gray-clad, erect figure, this hand- 
some face, barred across by an immense moustache, 
might after all, perchance, be that of one of the aristo- 
crats he had just so thoroughly "cut over the ears" to 
use his own graphic expression. That certainly would 
be a pity, for he was a splendid old chap, and the light- 
hearted American lad would be sorry, indeed, to have 
offended him; so, turning to a personage who had 
throughout the interesting colloquy been sitting on the 
unknown's other side, and whom he knew belonged to 
the old gentleman's party, he exclaimed: 

"Your friend seems a mighty nice fellow, and I 
hope I haven't vexed him. But, you see, he didn't 
seem to believe what everybody knows, and that is that 
strangers who visit a country find out more in a few 
weeks of residence about its customs, its people, and 
its society than do the natives, if they live a hundred 
years. Now, you, I'm sure, will agree with me, ong 

268 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

intevm, that the Viennese are all pretty gay, jolly as 
they make 'em, in fact. I can't dream for a moment 
that my diplomatic friend tried to guy me, either, and I 
will back his opinion, through thick and thin, even before 
I go and see for myself. It's your friend who is misin- 
formed, as it's natural that he should be, being a native. 
I guess a lot of what happens in his little town doesn't 
come to his old ears." 

"That is very possible," remarked the stranger, who 
was no other than the Archduke's Aide-de-Camp, Count 

X , wearing a plain tweed travelling suit, "for 

people in Austria are not in the habit of talking to 
members of the Imperial Family as you, my dear sir, 
have just done to Archduke Rainer, the Emperor's 
cousin." 

The young American jumped to his feet, a look of 
genuine concern overspreading his clean-shaven, boyish 
face. 

"I am sorry!" he cried. "I never thought that this 
quiet, simple, genial old rooster I beg your pardon 
this nice, plain, old gentleman was an own cousin to a 
throne! a real, genuine, bona-fide, simon-pure, hall- 
marked, first-class, Imperial prize-trotter! I'll go, this 
instant, and apologize!" And before the Aide-de-Camp, 
who was by now laughing heartily, could stop him, he 
was tearing after the unsuspecting Archduke, on con- 
ciliatory thoughts intent. 

It would seem that the apologies presented by him 
to his late victim were of a pleasing quality, however, 

for shortly afterwards Count X saw, with much 

amusement, the Austrian Archduke and the American 
youth walking together up the steep lake path, and, 
wonderful to relate, the arm of the Archduke was linked 
affectionately in that of the lad, who was explaining at 
the top of his voice that these mountain hotels were al- 

269 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ways set on high, "like bugs on a potato vine," and 
that he wished his companion would lean upon him in 
good earnest, "for fair, you know, and not as if you were 
young and shy." 

Later on, greatly to the Aide-de-Camp's astonish- 
ment, the Archduke declared that he must really visit 
America some day, for a very interesting country it 
must be; and as to that young man, well, he was ex- 
tremely refreshing and novel, and a nice, good-hearted 
boy, who changed one very pleasingly from the ordinary 
"routine," etc., but what he meant when talking about 
"big bow-wow folk," he, the Archduke, could not under- 
stand, and would Count X kindly ask him, if he saw 

him again, for it was sure to be something amusing and 
out of the common. 

Another member of the Imperial family who always 
had a decided foible for America was Empress Elizabeth 
herself. 

A few years before her tragic death, a friend, who, 
thanks to great reverses of fortune and other adverse 
circumstances, was living in the United States, received 
from her a letter, from which is taken the following ex- 
tract : 

"The free, unhampered life of America must have its charms. 
I wonder if it will make you forget that you ever lived another 
existence. Yours is now, as I understand it, wholly unlike in 
climate, scenery, and customs, anything we know on our side of 
the sea, even when we do not confine ourselves to our own land, 
but travel greatly. I am afraid that I am very ignorant of all 
that concerns the United States; but this ignorance is certainly 
equalled by my curiosity, and I would like nothing better than 
to come and stay with you for a little while. Perchance I shall do 
so some day. With the yacht it would not be so difficult; they 
in Vienna would all believe that I am cruising in Norway or Ice- 
land, where I have always also wished to go. Tell me if the 
close-woven forests, the dense fields of reeds, and the immense 
lakes, bordered with huge pink-and-golden lilies, I have read 

270 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

about, are really as they are described? I can hardly bring 
myself to believe that even in South America there still exist 
those superb virgin forests, the silence of which is never dis- 
turbed save by the cry of a wild bird or the rustle of an uncoil- 
ing snake; so do not think me very silly if I ask you whether 
there remain in North America to-day roving, dangeroxis tribes 
of Indians, or if all those stories are exaggerations? I read, 
some time ago, a book about American Western life, which made 
me eager indeed to go and see with my own eyes those great 
ranches horse-breeding farms, are they not? those herds of 
untamed cattle, those picturesque cow-boys, who must be some- 
thing like our own Magyar Czikos, although of a far better class, 
in spite of their rough-and-ready ways and their delightful quick- 
ness with their revolvers, for here, as you surely remember, the 
Czikos is an ignorant peasant, whereas your cow-boys are often 
gentlemen. Ilyen ember ilt new, tbla&t ott! I would like very, 
very much to come over, and I am not at all sure that I will not 
do so. There must be some spot on the coast where I could 
land unobserved, and then travel on to New York in strictest 
incognito, with but one or two attendants. How happy it 
would make me to see you again, my dearest one, and none 
would need to be the wiser, for I would stand quite aloof and 
look on merely, in order to see how that energetic young coun- 
try gets on, 'and all submitted to a people's will,' as Ten- 
nyson wrote about something vastly different, of course; but 
the line fits! Then you would come with me on the yacht, 
and we would sail about, and go as far as Florida to see the 
gray beards on the cypresses that you mentioned to me. I 
am sure I would like it over there, especially in the country 
where there are such magnificent horses Kentucky, is it not? 
It is all very well to cling to monarchical principles in Europe, 
although of late years in England, in France, and elsewhere too, 
the aristocracy an aristocracy no longer in our sense of the 
word is largely intermixed with enriched tradesmen, titled 
Hebrews, and gilded Bourgeois; but in great, big America it is 
quite different, naturally, and their politics seem to be a matter 
of real, all-important, and individual conviction to them, not a 
mere mechanical repetition of what has been droned into their 
ears for centuries. But enough of all this for the present. 
Write and tell me what you think of my project. Not for 
worlds, of course, would I try to persuade you and have you re- 
pent afterwards." 

271 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

The consternation of the recipient of that letter may 
be better imagined than described. To have the Em- 
press arrive thus secretly in America, and take up even 
temporary quarters in a small New York house "up- 
town," within a stone's-throw of cable cars and other 
exasperating modern conveniences she who never 
allowed even gas or electric lights to disfigure any of 
her palaces, who, simple as were her tastes, could not 
bear anything that was not absolutely artistic not to 
mention the responsibility entailed by such a visit. 

The thought was appalling, and so the wretched re- 
cipient crushed down her own wishes, her tenderness, 
and her longings for a peep at the one feminine friend 
she had ever had and loved, and did all in her power to 
prevent this project which might so easily have caused 
grave complications from being put to execution. 

Life's problems are sometimes a little hard, a little 
cruel for those who are torn between reason and inclina- 
tion, and cost many bitter tears whichever way they 
are solved. 

One hears once in a while single words and phrases 
which, like the touch of a disenchanting wand, make the 
whole structure of one's painfully acquired, patiently ce- 
mented views and feelings crumble in a second to a heap 
of choking gray dust. That letter had this effect upon 
its recipient. Before the thought of what had been, 
the intense desire of ever so short a return to the sweet 
communion of heart which had been so brutally inter- 
rupted, the somberer sides of her own life were suddenly 
revealed to her. She resolutely shut her eyes to the 
fact, but it influenced her none the less, caught as she 
was in a harsh engrenage, from which there was as yet 
no escape, and for a long time she was conscious of a 
feeling of mutilation, of a loss as painful as the muti- 
lation or loss of a limb, and it cost her many a rough 

272 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

battle with herself till she, for the second time, succeed- 
ed m uprooting her miserable and deplorable weakness. 

Alas! hope is like the graceful, iridescent Nautilus, all 
sufficient unto itself in its delicate shell, skimming over 
the surface of the sea, and fearing neither storm nor 
wreck; but often a wanton blow, an unexpected shock 
breaks the daintily tinted vessel, and the fairy voyage 
is at an end, the little navigator sunk, like any less de- 
liciously ethereal creature. Then a new "ship of pearl " 
must spread its scintillating wings upon the wave-crests 
to beckon us onward alluringly, until that one also has 
met with wreck, and so another and another, until we, 
grown too old, too listless, too weary to continue the pret- 
ty game, are ourselves ready to launch upon that wave, 
the last of all, which casts us far away upon the dim 
unknown. 

It is, indeed, a far cry from this little Nautilus in- 
termezzo, from the hopes and disappointments of a 
nobody, to the resumption of a great and powerful 
Monarch's life-story, yet it must be done. So, Festina 
lente, Pazienza! we will soon have ended that, too. 

A man like Francis- Joseph, upon whom sorrows un- 
numbered and heart-breaking have so thickly fallen, 
should, in order to live his life out without too much 
suffering, too great an agony, have possessed no real 
feeling, which is very far, indeed, from being the case. 

All that daily ceremony, that hourly etiquette, that 
ceaseless being on parade, that incessant pretence of 
being interested, charmed, cordial, pleased, which forms 
the routine of his days, all the net- work of intrigue 
with which he is surrounded, does not lighten his task, 
nor can those who are their own masters realize what 
it must be to him to be obliged to smile on persons whose 
presence is undesired, to divide his attention with un- 
impeachable fairness between two score and more of 

18 273 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Archdukes and Archduchesses, of Princes and Prin- 
cesses, whose little dissensions, needs, wants, wishes, or 
grievances are laid before him whenever there is the 
slightest chance to do so; what irritation, perplexity and 
inexpressible boredom must be his when it is demanded 
of him that he shall plunge into so many individual storms 
and dissensions, when every passing day opens a little 
wider the gates of disillusion and of regret before him. 

If that were all! If that, at least, were the entire list 
of his trials! But what would become of his huge and 
turbulent dominion if such was the case ? Sixteen nation- 
alities, more or less alien and hostile to each other, are 
not amusing toys, or pets to be quieted with sugar, but a 
many-headed hydra, exceeding ravenous and even blood- 
thirsty, which cannot be led about by chains of meadow 
daisies or sent to sleep to the sound of soothing lullabies. 
Indeed, the hopelessness of ever completely reconciling 
them seems great, and there is but one man who has ever 
bridled this cruel and ungrateful monster namely, 
Francis-Joseph, who truly is "the Keystone of his Em- 
pire." 

And in all those years which have lumbered so 
heavily upon the oft-blocked lines which this plucky 
engineer had to follow, never has his hand faltered in its 
safe, firm guidance, never has he allowed the great Car 
of State to derail, never have his manifold personal sor- 
rows been permitted to make him pause even for an in- 
stant. 

When, in the spring of 1872, Archduchess Sophia was 
stricken down by a fatal attack of pulmonary conges- 
tion, he remained with her day and night during the brief 
course of her malady, and when her proud eyes were 
closed forever he stood looking down upon the white, 
serene face with the dulled, paralyzed stupor of despair. 
He thought of how boundlessly she had loved him, of 

274 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

how she had cleaved to him, suffered for him, fought 
for him, this strong, clever, masterful mother, now 
lying senseless to all sound, even to his beloved voice, 
powerless to lift her hand in tender greeting even to 
him; a thing now to be thrust away out of remem- 
brance of all those who had known her, all those who 
had trembled before her, into the dark, merciless silence 
of the grave. 

An anguish such as falls upon men in their own death 
struggle fell upon him then, and smote him upon his 
knees, his head bowed, his arms stretched out, his broad 
chest rising and falling as though heaving and struggling 
against the torture of iron bands; and with deep, gasping 
sobs he sank forward, calling to her passionately to awake 
and return to him. 

When he came forth from that chamber of death, those 
who saw him averted their faces from that look on his, 
from that unnatural light that shone in his eyes. 

The Empress often told me how, at that moment, she 
thought she would have willingly given all she had to 
resuscitate her bitter enemy, so that he, her husband, 
might again be happy ; and how, with that strange blend- 
ing of fitness and incongruity which so often assails one 
at such hours, the old words of the " Romaunt de Dugues- 
clin " involuntarily rose to her mind: 

" N'a filairesse en France qui sache fil filer. 
Quiy me gagnait aincois ma finance a filer !" 

For was there a woman, young or old, who could 
hesitate to give her all to gain him ransom from so 
overpowering an agony? She, at least, could not be- 
lieve it. 

That look of hopeless desolation, some of those who 
saw it then were destined to see it again, increasing in 

275 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

bitterness of suffering, as first his beloved old father, 
and then his handsome, strong, stalwart son, the pride 
of his heart and of his House, lay dead before him. 

But when the final and most fearsome blow of all 
stunned and crushed this unfortunate man, when the 
lifeless form of his beautiful wife was brought back to 
him in its ethereal and solemn lace-shrouded loveliness, 
her glorious eyes closed as though in slumber, bearing 
no visible sign of the assassin's ignoble deed, save in the 
waxen whiteness of her little crossed hands and of her 
delicately curved lips, looking merely like a lily broken 
by ruthless fingers, the hideousness of this supreme loss 
seemed to arise embodied before him and to gibe and 
gibber in his face, bidding him stand aloof and not gaze 
upon the proof of the calamity which was leaving him 
alone on earth, with no companion save the eternal re- 
membrance of this marmorean, irresponsive, immovable 
face, which he had adored in all the fulness, the dazzling 
beauty, the glory of her exquisite womanhood! 

He staggered back and refused to see it thus for the 
last time, and fled, wandering through the great, silent 
palace, without rest or comfort, and followed in his soul- 
rending solitude by one eternal, wailing echo of his 
doom: "Alone! Alone!" 

There are natures which, in their anguish, seek the 
fellowship of their kind; there are others which shun it, 
and these are the proud, the tenacious, the unyielding, 
the great, and the best. Such is Francis- Joseph's, whose 
entourage and family marvelled to see him after each new 
sorrow arise, unaltered in manner, unchanged in his tire- 
less ardor for work, always the same kind, generous, 
calm, quiet, duty-loving man. 

Pitiful to others, he abhors pity for himself; merciful 
to all miseries, he asks none for his own, and keeping 
back his unconquerable pain until none are by to stand 

276 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

between him and its unfathomable depths, which grow 
deeper every day that dawns, with every passing hour 
watching him when he sleeps, so that his sleep is short 
and disturbed, and while he wakes, so that his days are 
joyless he gives no outward sign of the ever-present 
distress and loneliness that racks and haunts him, or of 
the barbed steel sunk forever in his warm, tender heart. 



CHAPTER XII 

ALONE, indeed, and in the saddest sense of the word, 
is Emperor Francis- Joseph now, condemned to a per- 
petual mental and heart isolation, by a fate so grim, 
so relentless that it has taken his life like a beautiful 
fruit and has pressed it dry to the core of all joy, all 
hope, all gladness, all human happiness, and all reward 
for the great deeds he has accomplished, the great good, 
he has done; a fate which has been, of a truth, more 
cruel than death itself. 

Alone in his magnificent palaces he often sits, heart- 
sick and weary of that life from whence all that made it 
worth the living has disappeared, a life that is forever 
overshadowed by a grief so immense that it conceals 
from him the very light of heaven. 

Yet the sense of his rank and his habitual reserve keep 
him mute always about his sufferings, and he toils on, 
smiles on, masks his anguish with a strength, a calm, and 
a kindness seemingly as shadowless as of yore, and which 
will enable him to remain to the end the one tie uniting 
the Austro-Hungarian people, whose loyalty and affection 
are accorded, not to the House of Habsburg, but solely 
and exclusively to the person of the present Sovereign. 

Alas ! I hope and trust that we may not live to see that 
day when, this one remaining bond of union being re- 
moved, the Empire which he has built up and of which 
he is so proud will fall and crumble pitifully asunder, 
burying in the cataclysm the mock friendliness of those 
sixteen alien races, the union of which, when once he is 

278 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

no longer there to hold them close together in the hollow 
of his hand, will, it is feared, cease to exist. 

Volumes could be written illustrating the extraordi- 
nary fashion in which this patriarchal Monarch has con- 
stantly remained in touch with the lowliest as well as 
with the highest of his subjects, and of the degree in 
which he has shown himself to be the real father of his 
people. 

He makes a point of conversing with them in each of 
their languages or dialects, changing from German to 
Hungarian, from Italian to Croatian, from Polish to 
Czech, and from Bosniac to Slovak or Roumanian, with 
absolutely effortless facility. 

He travels a great deal, too, visiting first one and then 
another of his provincial capitals, one day sojourning in 
verdure-encircled Prague, the illuminations in honor of 
his presence mirroring their red, blue, and green sparks 
in the broad waters of the Moldau, and outlining the 
tall, gilt cross of the Teyn Church and the mosque-like 
spires of the thousand towers, which make the old city 
look so fairy -like at night; another time appearing 
upon the esplanade at Abbazzia, fragrant with the pene- 
trating odors of orange and myrtle, where the blue 
waves of the Adriatic beat a lulling measure below the 
splendid villas and hotels of our Austrian Nice. Again, 
disembarking from his yacht at the Francis- Joseph Quai, 
as the stars begin to twinkle above the Blocksberg, he 
shares his favors between the beautiful twin towns of 
Buda and of Pesth, for his affection is divided with strict 
fairness between these cities, which raise their slender 
minarets on both sides of the glittering, moonlit band 
of molten silver, separating them by its fleet current; 
or when the rich, golden, Hungarian autumn, with the 
glow of its burning sunsets, turns the purple and yel- 
low grapes of the far - stretching vineyards into so 

279 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

many gleaming jewels, the Imperial yacht descends the 
Danube as far as Peterwardein, between steep, rocky 
cliffs rising sheer from the fast-running wavelets of the 
sapphire-hued river, or skirts low, marshy grounds cov- 
ered with pale, shivering willows like those so dear to 
Corot, and intersected by multitudinous streamlets flow- 
ing from the flat fields that bear the flax and grain which 
make the riches of those regions. 

The Emperor orders the anchor to be cast before tiny 
townships, or large villages nestling between hills or in 
leafy dells, so that he may praise the vine-growers and 
watch the over-ripened fruit as it is carried to the 
presses by laughing girls and boys wearing the bright, 
picturesque Magyar costume. 

In the autumn, too, as in the late spring, this inde- 
fatigable Ruler hurries off to the great military manoeu- 
vres, now in Galicia, now in Moravia, Hungary, Bohemia, 
or any other spot previously agreed upon, and from the 
minute of his arrival the adoration he inspires to his 
troops, and which binds closely together with a frank, 
brotherly fellowship the soldiers of each battalion, each 
squadron, each battery, becomes at once apparent. 

If a mere private wants anything, he knows that the 
Emperor will do for him what a father would do for a 
favorite child; he knows also that his keen eyes per- 
ceive at a glance of what mettle he, this humble unit 
in a colossal organization, is made, even be he but just 
fresh from the hand of the instructor. 

Francis-Joseph loves his soldiers with a great, silent 
love, which is fast-rooted in the granite of his nature, 
and his attitude towards them is that of a grave courtesy, 
a preference for the fewest words and least demonstra- 
tion possible, a marked opinion that silence is golden 
and speech only silver-plated metal, save when weighted 
by heroic action, which attitude, taken in unison with the 

380 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

passion du metier, the dauntless pluck, the emotionless 
calm, and the limitless power of suppressing all impa- 
tience, injustice, or arbitrariness of which Francis-Joseph 
has given so many proofs, abundantly explains why his 
very name is worshipped by all those who wear his uni- 
form, from the Feldzeugmeister, in his gorgeous, fur- 
trimmed, gold-laced crimson and white, and his brilliant, 
green-plumed headgear, to the sober gray of the private 
of chasseurs, or the yet duller, plainer, brown and dark 
blue of the Honved. 

Latin or Teuton, Magyar or Czech, were always and 
are ever very much the same to the Emperor when the 
ring of the bugle is in his ear and the glitter of the sun 
is upon the line of steel fringing regiment after regiment 
as they form up for a grand parade on the Schmelz or 
for a life-and-death struggle in the field, so long as all 
hearts beat alike with hope of pre-eminence, success, and 
victory. With equal pride he glances at the superb sweep 
of his Polish Uhlans, his Hungarian Hussars, or his Bo- 
hemian Dragoons wheeling to the attack, and although 
he is a strict disciplinarian, and can be stern and unbend- 
ding when reproof is necessary, yet his mercy is never 
vainly appealed to when the iron wall of military law 
offers a loop-hole of which he can avail himself to remit 
a punishment or avoid harsh censure. 

A little while since, during the manoeuvres in Hungary, 
after a hot and fatiguing day in the saddle, the Emperor 
was crossing a stone-flagged yard leading to his tempo- 
rary quarters, unaccompanied even by an orderly, when 
suddenly a soft, shy touch upon his arm made him turn 
in surprise, to be confronted by a queer little barefooted 
form, very ragged, and surmounted by a curly head which 
barely reached up to the Imperial elbow. 

The Monarch smiled, and said, gently, with a reassur- 
ing smile, for he dearly loves children, even when they 

281 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

have little, grimy, sunburned faces and look the very 
reverse of prosperous: 

"Well, my little man, and what do you want of me?" 
There was an infinite pity in his eyes as he bent over the 
child. 

The boy gave a long sigh, looking pathetically up at 
him, with lips parted, and two large tears gathering in 
his frightened blue eyes: 

"I came I came please don't be angry I came to 
bring this; do take it, please; please do!" and flushing to 
a glowing pink, the poor little fellow held out tremblingly 
a roll of coarse paper, upon which something was written 
in a sadly untutored hand. 

The Emperor gazed at this strange petitioner in a 
silence which the boy mistook for offence, and, pale now 
with excitement, he leaned nearer, with passionate, apol- 
ogetic entreaty: 

"Don't be angry!" he repeated, a rising sob making 
his voice tremble; "please take it!" 

The aged Sovereign, in silence still, stooped lower, and 
possessing himself with one hand of the uninviting docu- 
ment, drew the shaking little lad to him with the other. 
When he spoke his own voice was unsteady: 

"Who sent you to me?" he asked, softly. 

"Mother; we are very poor." The child was trying 
his best not to cry, but the tears brimmed over now and 
fell on his thin, tanned cheeks. "We have nothing 
nothing, so we must die of hunger, mother and I and 
my baby sister!" he concluded, while one little bare foot 
traced nervously a zigzag arabesque on the dusty pave- 
ment. 

The hand of his august interlocutor wandered gently 
over the tangled curls as he rapidly attempted to deci- 
pher the piteous hieroglyphics of the blurred, scrawled, 
miserable petition, the words erased with passionate up- 

282 



I I I 



tfSQBHIMffNp^ 

iffl 

pflllllll III! 




A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

and-down strokes, blotted with hot tears and scored out 
in impulsive misery. 

The boy was watching, startled and awed, and as they 
stood there together the contrast between the white- 
haired Emperor, in his bright-hued uniform, and the little 
petitioner, in his loose, torn shirt and sorely patched trou- 
sers, barelegged, barefooted, bareheaded, the mighty 
Ruler of millions of men and the hungry child of the 
poor, was striking and startling enough not to be easily 
forgotten by the two aides-de-camp who, unseen, had 
stopped under the dusky porch of the yard. 

"I am not angry, my little one; don't cry," murmured 
the Emperor, and as he spoke he stooped again and 
brushed the tear-stained, imploring face turned upward 
to him with his mustached lip. "I will see that your 
mother, your little sister, and yourself are provided for, 
and when you grow up to be a man you will be one of 
my best soldiers, for you are a brave little fellow!" 

The boy had listened with the color coming and going, 
fleeting and burning, from the wavy fringe of his yellow 
hair to his thin, brown neck, his narrow forehead crossed 
by wrinkles of perplexity. 

"Have you a father?" asked the Emperor. 

"Yes, Majesty!" 

"And where is your father?" 

" I I do not know!" The boy looked away, hanging 
his head and working the toes of his little bare feet yet 
more nervously in the dust. 

"Has he left your mother?" the Emperor questioned, 
drawing his own conclusions. 

"Yes, Majesty, he he has left us a long time ago," he 
owned, in a dull voice, keeping his tear-filled eyes averted. 

"Poor little fellow! Tell your mother that she need 
have no more fears, that I promise to send her all she 
needs. Will you remember what I say?" 

283 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

"Oh yes, yes, Majesty!" the child cried, with the joy- 
ful precipitancy of intense relief ; then with quite discon- 
certing violence the pitiful little waif seized his patron's 
white-gloved hand, kissed it passionately, and, like a wild 
creature terrified by his own rashness, fled, leaving the 
Emperor to look after his small, swiftly running form 
with suddenly dimmed eyes. 

Francis-Joseph knows how to talk to the poor, which 
is an art possessed only by the most delicate and sensi- 
tive hearts, and his manner towards them is so paternal, 
simple, and encouraging that all shyness or alarm flies 
before it. 

To one and all of his less-fortunate subjects he lends 
a kindly and attentive ear, and never permits himself 
to show the least sign of weariness, however trivial and 
uninteresting the troubles confided to him may be 
another talent of more value to the great than one might 
suppose. 

When, however, this wonderful patience of his is men- 
tioned within his hearing, he laughs, and contents him- 
self with saying: "It is the moral badge of all our 
tribe," which is not strictly true, since there are numer- 
ous princes who cannot boast even a hundredth part of 
his perfection in an art of which he is past-master. 

Many a time, on his private errands of mercy, which 
few know of, he has been, like Archduke Rainer at the 
Swiss Hotel, mistaken for a vastly smaller personage 
a pardonable error, after all, for do puissant and mighty 
Sovereigns (in the usual notion of them) go about at- 
tended by no retinue, dispensing their own charities in 
a most un-Imperial and unassuming guise? Indeed, one 
must be deeply versed in ways Francis-Josephian to rec- 
ognize him on such occasions. C'est le cas de le dire! 

To see him familiarly seated in a mountaineer's or vil- 
lager's kitchen, for instance, quite at his ease, sunnily 

284 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

genial, displaying the most sincere interest in the chil- 
dren, the cattle, the old, palsied granny huddled in the 
corner of the hearth, or her aged mate, who, gnarled 
like a venerable oak, has served, many, many years be- 
fore, in his Emperor's army, perchance fought at his side, 
is unspeakably delightful. There are, moreover, notes 
of peculiar richness in his voice when he speaks to such 
people. 

One can scarcely be a good monarchist unless one has 
seen and heard him under such circumstances; but if 
this opportunity is accorded, the most obdurate of radi- 
cals are bound to become ardent partisans of monarchy, 
almost without being aware of the fact. 

Francis- Joseph in his palace, with a background of 
precious mosaics, of mellow and superb frescoes, of 
gold -wrought panels, of silks and satins enriched and 
beautified by exquisite embroideries, of priceless bronzes, 
of marbles, of sparkling Venetian mirrors, of odorous 
flowers, of soft, bright coloring, and all the rest of his 
superb state, is a grand and now very pathetic figure ; 
but when he is among the humble, be it in Alpine cha- 
let or Moravian farm-house, in village hut, or dark city 
slum, this man, who is certainly no saint, who has his 
weaknesses, his foibles his faults even, if you will is 
in some ways a saintlier saint than many of those 
awaiting official beatification beyond the realms of 
azure which are supposed to separate us from heaven. 

But if there are pretty scenes to be witnessed when 
the palace goes to the cottage, there still are many more 
when the cottage goes to the palace on the occasion of 
the famous Thursday receptions, which I have elsewhere 
described, 1 when any of His Most Catholic Majesty's sub- 
jects, who presents him or herself, has the opportunity 

1 The Martyrdom of an Empress. 

28 5 I 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

of a private audience, and the great antechamber pre- 
sents a microcosm of the Empire, thronged, as it is, with 
representatives of every class, from the highest digni- 
taries of Church and State to the poorest farmer and 
artisan. 

It is only to be expected that, among the ignorant, the 
lowly and the very poor, nocking to the presence of their 
Sovereign, quaint and pathetic incidents should often 
occur. 

For instance, on one occasion an old peasant woman, 
with an anxious, wrinkled and troubled face, arrayed 
in the picturesque costume of her district, and carrying 
a small, shawl - wrapped bundle carefully in her arms, 
as if it had been an infant, was admitted to the ante- 
chamber. She at once betook herself timidly into a cor- 
ner, being evidently extremely eager to avoid notice ; but 
suddenly the decorous quiet was broken by most ear- 
piercing shrieks and squeals, apparently proceeding from 
the vicinity of this retiring and shy old dame. The as- 
tonished attendants immediately investigated the cause 
of the disturbance, and found her struggling with a very 
lively little sucking pig, profusely adorned with pink 
and blue ribbons, which had begun to resent the con- 
finement of the various envelopes in which it had ob- 
tained its surreptitious entrance into the most exclusive 
Court of Europe ! 

The poor woman tearfully explained that she had 
come a long way to crave the pardon of her son, a sol- 
dier, who had committed some offence against mili- 
tary discipline, and that she had brought the piglet 
the only apparently suitable possession she had as a 
propitiatory offering for her good Kaiser. The indig- 
nant officials would have removed the shameless young 
four-footed offender, but Francis- Joseph, whose atten- 
tion had been attracted by those strange and unusual 

286 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

sounds, ascertained their cause, and personally inter- 
fered in the old lady's behalf, so that the pig not only 
received the honor of an Imperial audience and accept- 
ance, but the donor procured the granting of her peti- 
tion, and soon went on her way rejoicing. 

This reminds me that the Emperor is annually the re- 
cipient of many a similar tribute in kind. Every year, for 
example, on St. Martin's day, a delegation, chosen from 
among the Jewish population of whatever city Francis- 
Joseph may happen to be residing in at the time, pre- 
sents him with two geese, the largest and finest procurable, 
securely bound and decorated with bows and fluttering 
lengths of many - colored ribbon. This very ancient 
ceremony expresses the gratitude of the Hebrews for 
the protection afforded to their race throughout the 
Empire, and we may imagine that in the olden times 
of the "Judenhetz " it voiced a very heart-felt gratitude 
indeed. The geese, however, on these occasions, feel 
themselves animated by no such cordial sentiments; 
quite otherwise, in fact, for their loud lamentations and 
vehement protests at having thus ' ' greatness thrust upon 
them" is in such startling discord with the convention- 
alities of the Imperial antechamber that the waiting 
throng are only too glad to yield them precedence and 
to see the last of them as speedily as possible. 

It is in this accessibility of the Sovereign, this oppor- 
tunity for direct and individual appeal to the highest 
authority, that the primitive side of the people's life 
the side farthest from such modernities as Reichsraths, 
popular science, and popular education finds expression, 
and that the observer is enabled to appreciate the dual 
nature of this truly Dual Empire. 

To see Francis-Joseph thus engaged in righting lit- 
tle wrongs and petty grievances that often, one would 
think, might have been dealt with by some local magis- 

287 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

trate, is to be carried in spirit to Oriental countries or 
back to patriarchal times, and to realize how much he is 
and feels himself to be father of his people to become 
convinced also of how completely he is the architect of 
his Empire as it stands to-day. This is, indeed, per- 
sonal government, " as it was in the days of Haroun-al- 
Raschid, of blessed memory, whose times exist still," 
and will exist long after modern political systems have 
passed away. 

The Emperor accepts this paternal position with an 
earnestness as touching as the people's confidence, and 
many are the anecdotes that could be told in illustration 
thereof. 

While shooting one day, quite unattended, in the 
woods of one of his Styrian estates, he came upon a 
couple of poachers, who might, had they chosen, made 
their escape, or even have attacked him, as has so often 
happened in Europe to territorial Magnates in lonely 
portions of their forest preserves, but, recognizing the 
Emperor, they fell on their knees and humbly begged his 
pardon. Finding themselves answered in a kindly tone, 
the men took heart to explain that they were both old 
soldiers who had fallen on evil days, and that, having 
many hungry mouths to feed, they had been forced 
to seek a maintenance in any fashion that came to 
hand. 

Game laws in Austria are very strict, and when the 
Emperor had left them, after taking down their names 
and addresses, the two poor wretches spent more than 
one mauvais quart d'heure of quaking apprehension. 
Judge, therefore, what must have been their astonish- 
ment and joy when they found themselves appointed 
game-keepers on the very estate upon which they had 
been poaching. Investigation had proven their stories 
to be absolutely true, and so their need found relief and 

288 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

their excellent military record its reward in spite of the 
grievousness of their offence. 

Another time, during a drive to Schonbrunn, finding 
a fire-engine which, while on the way to a great confla- 
gration, had been stalled in a mud-hole broken out by 
a recent heavy rain, far from leaving the ponderous 
machine to be extricated by the efforts of the fast-gath- 
ering crowd, the Emperor had the horses taken from his 
carriage and added to the engine's team, while he him- 
self jumped into a cab that chanced to pass and pro- 
ceeded to his destination. 

Pre-eminent as Francis-Joseph is as Pater Patrice, and 
beloved as he is by high and low alike, he is equally 
pre-eminent as a Sovereign, a fact which makes the 
"Crown a lonely splendor" indeed. 

Between the Imperial House and those of the aris- 
tocracy, no matter how old, wealthy, and powerful they 
may be, there is a great gulf fixed, which no intimacy 
or familiarity is allowed to bridge. The Emperor is 
always the Emperor, the father of his Nobles as he is 
of his lowest peasants, and there is none even second to 
him, so that, while he is simple and unaffected in his 
manner, and without the slightest touch of arrogance, 
he never mingles with them at any time in the social 
sense. The German Kaiser and the English King can 
choose their associates from among the Nobility of their 
dominions, but almost the only intimate friend not of 
his own blood Francis-Joseph has ever had was the late 
King of Saxony. 

That spirit of laisser-aller which has, alas, long per- 
vaded many of the reigning Houses of Europe, is not at 
all tolerated by Habsburg tradition; and I should be 
tempted to describe the majesty of Francis- Joseph as 
absolutely Olympian, in that it is so entirely above even 
the great aristocracy, and, indeed, in a sense, which is 
i 289 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

modified by his great approachability, quite apart from 
them also. 

A story that is told of the Emperor Joseph II. is an 
excellent illustration of this. Joseph, a most laborious 
and conscientious Monarch, much concerned about the 
welfare of his people, presented to the city of Vienna, 
for use as a public park, a tract of land that had until 
then been part of the royal demesne. (It is now that 
queen of beautiful metropolitan breathing spaces, the 
Prater.) One of the greatest aristocrats of the Empire 
deprecatingly suggested that the Emperor might per- 
haps have been too liberal in his munificence, since he 
had gone far towards depriving himself of sufficient space 
wherein to enjoy the society of his Peers. 

"Not at all," replied the Emperor; "for if I am 
to enjoy the society of my Peers only, I will have 
to spend my days in the vaults of the Kapuziner 
Kirche. 1 

This explains why Francis- Joseph is so very much 
alone, excepting for the society of his two daughters 
and their children. Already isolated by his position, 
it has been his misfortune to survive most of those 
who were of his day and generation. Wellnigh all the 
statesmen and generals who served him in council and 
in the field during the first three or four decades of his 
reign, and nearly all his contemporaries who were re- 
lated to him by blood, are gone, while those men who 
were mere children when he had already been many 
years on the throne now fill the great offices of the State 
and assist him in the task of government. 

Little has been left him of the happiness of life ; but 
labor is the panacea for all its ills, and he absorbs him- 
self in it, so as to allow no time for brooding thoughts 

1 Where the members of the Imperial Family are interred. 

290 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

*v 

or, indeed, even for relaxation of any kind, excepting 
occasional shooting and hunting expeditions. 

It is difficult to give an idea of the enormous quantity 
of work he does accomplish. 

He is obliged to be in touch with two distinct parlia- 
ments, the Hungarian and the Austrian; he has to con- 
sider and approve documents submitted to him by two 
cabinets, comprising no less than nineteen ministers, and 
to follow up, with each one of them, the transactions of 
their respective departments. He must direct the ad- 
ministration and exercise the chief command of the en- 
tire army of the Empire nearly a million of men see 
to the proper direction of two complete Imperial estab- 
lishments, one at Vienna and another at Pesth, with 
their hundreds of dignitaries, officials, and retainers of 
every grade ; he must watch with careful eye the doings 
of the various members composing the numerous Habs- 
burg Family doings which very often require close at- 
tention nay, he even superintends the management of 
their private fortunes and properties; and, finally, takes 
the leading part in all ceremonies and State functions, 
not of one Court but of two. 

Rising at daybreak from the little iron camp-bed that 
I have previously mentioned, he shaves himself, is as- 
sisted to dress by his valet, and proceeds to his coffee 
and rolls in the adjoining study. As soon as these are 
despatched, the work of the day begins, and he turns to 
good account the early hours that the majority of his 
subjects spend in sleep, although his aides-de-camp 
and Flugel-Adjudants are forced in turn, when on duty, 
to keep the same hours as himself. Indeed, greatly to 
the consternation ot some high and mighty officials, he has 
of late years fallen in the habit of frequently giving au- 
dience to Ministers and Officers of State at seven o'clock 
in the morning! But, as a general rule, these first, fresh 

291 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

morning hours are usually devoted to the consideration 
of the despatches and reports that have been sent in 
from the various departments, and nothing is allowed 
to escape the Emperor's careful eye, as his endorse- 
ments and marginal annotations attest. Sometimes 
these are of the nature of drastic criticism, at others 
they display a humor for which one would not think 
"the hardest -worked man in the Empire" could find 
opportunity. 

For instance, on the margin of one despatch, from an 
Austrian Ambassador abroad, were found the words, 
"very pompous and trivial," while another bore the 

remark, "Count X has signed this report, but seems 

to have been absent when it was written." 

The Ruler of Austro-Hungary is one of the wealthi- 
est Sovereigns of Europe, since, in addition to his civil 
list, he commands from his personal fortune an income 
which, even in these days of multifarious multi-million- 
aires, is of unusual magnitude ; but what he allows him- 
self for his own gratification is really ridiculously pathet- 
ic or pathetically ridiculous. The terms in this instance 
are interchangeable. 

As often as improvements are suggested for his personal 
comfort at the Hofburg or elsewhere, he is always pre- 
pared with an excuse, or an explanation, to justify their 
being dispensed with, and, with vigorous protest, in- 
variably attempts to extinguish the blaze of entreaty 
from his attendants into ashes of discouragement. 

When electrical ventilating apparatus first came into 
use, and the model of one specially constructed for cre- 
ating a draught through a fire-place during the summer 
months was shown to the Emperor, he declared himself 
delighted with it. 

The Court was just on the point of leaving Vienna for 
Ischl, and through the open windows Francis - Joseph 

292 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

*b 
glanced at the fine old lindens, acacias, chestnuts, and 

clipped ilex, the parterres of brilliant flowers, the foun- 
tains which the hot sun -rays touched to pinks, blues, 
and greens, and numberless iridescent tints, while he 
seemed immersed in silent calculation. At last he 
turned to his first " Leib-Kammerdiener " (first valet) a 
faithful servant , who simply worships his Imperial Mas- 
ter, and has been at his side for many long years. 

' ' This is an excellent device excellent ! Pray order 
some to be at once adjusted in the apartments of the 
Empress and of Archduchess Marie-Valerie." 

The disappointed attendant gazed with long-suffering 
eyes at his Master. 

"And also in Your Majesty's rooms, of course?" he 
questioned, almost imploringly. 

" Not at all! It is a useless toy for an old soldier like 
me." 

"I feared as much, Majesty," the valet murmured, 
respectfully, but firmly. "Your Majesty will, I trust, 
reconsider this, for the rooms occupied by Your Majesty 
during the summer visits from Ischl are very warm and 
uncomfortable, as the sun pours in all the afternoon." 

" I see," quoth the Emperor, with a mischievous smile, 
"you are going to try your persuasions once more upon 
your very trying and obstinate old Master." 

The man looked with entreaty at the Emperor. 

" I have often contradicted Your Majesty," he pleaded, 
"but only when it was for Your Majesty's good. I beg 
Your Majesty to forgive me, but these electric fans are 
necessary to Your Majesty's welfare in summer." 

"You need not ask my forgiveness for a mere differ- 
ence of opinion," replied the Emperor, who could hardly 
keep from laughing (to be honest, His Most Catholic 
Majesty's gravity of countenance was preserved only 
with the greatest difficulty); "your conscience is too 

293 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

sensitive, but you must not worry any more about the 
electric fans, because I am not going to spend hundreds 
of florins to keep myself a little cooler." 

"Only a hundred apiece," whispered the " Leib-Kam- 
merdiener," imploringly. 

"Well" the Emperor's eyes searched his valet's face 
for a second keenly "I am not going to spend a hun- 
dred florins apiece for my chimneys. I am only here a 
few days at a time in summer, and, moreover" as if with 
an afterthought ' ' the weather prophets say that we will 
have no great heat this year. Sufficient unto the day 
will be the evil thereof," he concluded, his blue eyes 
twinkling. " It is very selfish of you to be always think- 
ing of my comfort; so go at once and order those fans 
for Her Majesty's apartments and for the Arch- 
duchess's." 

The " Kammerdiener " did not move. Plainly he was 
unwilling to be dismissed without a loop-hole for escape 
in the direction of disobedience being left to him, a fact 
of which the Emperor was fully aware. 

" I quite understand," he said, slightly raising his voice 
for his man's speedier conviction. "It's a part of your 
little game to stand there innocently until I change my 
mind. I'll thank you to remember that I am not yet 
in my dotage. So it's no use for you to stick to your 
guns in this obstinate fashion. Don't you know that 
ready concession is due from the young to the old?" 

The gray-haired serving-man gazed wearily but reso- 
lutely at his master, who raised a forbidding hand, "I 
will listen to no more protestations, and, for the rest, 
you may count upon my forgiveness, but don't do it 
again," with which consoling conclusion the crestfallen 
" Leib -Kammerdiener " had to be satisfied. 

A month or so later, however, when the Emperor, 
leaving the delicious freshness of the " Kaiservilla " at 

294 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

<P 

Ischl, where clematis and jessamine climb and twine 
about terrace and veranda, where roses in glorious pro- 
fusion shed their petals on heavenly green lawns be- 
neath the beneficent shadow of pine and fir, and- the 
forest Maiglockchen fill the air with their fairy fragrance, 
to take possession for a fortnight of his quarters at the 
Hofburg undeniably hot and stuffy at such a season 
he was surprised to find them exquisitely cool and 
pleasant. Gravely he walked to the fireplace and in- 
vestigated it. 

"Aha!" exclaimed he, pointing a threatening fore- 
finger at the " Kammerdiener, " who was unpacking a 
dressing-case with an air of painfully absorbed atten- 
tion. "Aha! so you have won your point, after all; 
passive endurance must become my forte if I wish to 
enjoy peace and quiet. But " and he shook his head 
ominously "I wish you would forego some of your 
more burdensome responsibilities. A man can't avoid 
all of them, I know, but yours must be especially irk- 
some your exaggerated anxiety for my comfort, for 
instance. Believe me, forego this heaviest one, at least, 
since good intentions in this vale of tears bring no 
gratitude." 

The three valets who are nearest to the Emperor's 
person are now Rudolph Rottner, bedroom valet, Rai- 
mund Zrunek, his assistant, and Eugene Ketterl, who 
is intrusted with the full care and charge of the military 
wardrobe, a huge room, panelled in light oak and lined 
with deep cupboards, which hold the multitudinous 
uniforms required by the Sovereign for various occa- 
sions, such as reviews, receptions, visits to and from 
foreign Royalties, etc. 

The neatness of this curious place is marvellous. Not 
a grain of dust is to be seen on the highly polished 
tesselated floor, the two or three large tables where the 

295 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

garments are folded after being used, the tall oaken 
stands upon which they are aired before and after con- 
veyance to the Emperor's dressing-room, and, of course, 
still less within the great clothes-presses, where each 
shelf, drawer, or compartment is provided with a card 
whereon is beautifully engrossed the nature of the con- 
tents. These include, besides military garb belonging to 
all branches of the Austrian service, that of an English 
and a Prussian Field - Marshal, of a Swedish General, 
and uniforms of no less than ten foreign regiments of 
which he is honorary Colonel namely, the English Dra- 
goon Guards, Fifth Portugese Infantry, Russian Thirty- 
fifth Dragoons of Bielgorod, Russian Kexholm Guard, 
Prussian Kaiser-Franz Grenadiers of the Guard, Prus- 
sian Emperor Francis-Joseph Hussars, First Saxon Lan- 
cers, Sixth Roumanian Artillery, Fourth Wurtemberg 
Infantry, and Thirteenth Bavarian Infantry, etc., etc., 
etc! 

Another important personage of the immediate House- 
hold is the first " Zimmeraufseher " literally translated, 
first room-superintendent Joseph Traxler, whose portly 
presence, huge bunch of keys, imposing demeanor, and 
dignified mien are quite as much features of the Hofburg 
as are its unique tapestries and magnificent frescoes. 

There is yet another far humbler and much less state- 
ly individual there also, for whom Francis- Joseph has a 
quite special regard, and this is His Majesty's own per- 
sonal " Holztrager " (wood carrier) , Franz Meidl. Famil- 
iarly known to the entire personnel of the Hofburg as 
" Meiderl," this excellent man is a character, in his quiet, 
unobtrusive fashion. Always cheerful, smiling, oblig- 
ing, he may often be seen hurrying silently through 
all the superb glitter, the perfumes, the lavish luxuri- 
ousness of the Imperial Palace, his wooden hod, filled 
with olive and cedar logs, balanced on his shoulder, 

296 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

ft 

and his great, square basket of pine-cones and tiny 
bundles of carefully packed dry heather hanging from 
his arm, for upon him repose the responsibilities of 
keeping up crackling fires on the hearths of the private 
apartments throughout the winter. 

"Meiderl" to the community, the old man is often 
called by the irreverent pages-in-waiting and young 
officers of the guard the "Vestal," thanks to the almost 
devotional fashion in which he accomplishes his office. 
Softly he sinks upon his knees before the altar I mean 
the fireplace arranges the diminutive heather fagots 
and pine - cones with scrupulous exactitude, tops the 
edifice with severely cleaned and selected logs, sets a 
light to it reverently, blows little flames into greater 
ones with his breath as noiselessly as possible (for he 
despises bellows, which he judges to be both vulgar and 
disrespectfully squeaky), and remains kneeling until 
there is not the slightest danger of the blaze going out. 

His calling to him is of an almost sacerdotal nature ; 
it is his purpose in life, his greatest joy, and he goes 
on with his work from October to May, healthy in mind 
and body, a hale and hearty old man, with white 
whiskers, a humorous mouth, a large, well-shaped, am- 
bitious nose, and a delightful sense of being one of the 
most necessary rivets in the great Imperial engine. 

As I have already said, the Emperor greatly likes this 
old fellow in the neat blue linen garments, who years 
and years ago served at his side on many battle-fields, 
and he never misses a chance of joking him about 
the fact that to-day, as then, he is dauntless under 
fire. Anybody seeing the " Kaiserlich-Koniglicher Hof- 
Holztrdger" which means, literally, the "Imperial and 
Royal Court Wood Carrier" look at his beloved master 
and erstwhile generalissimo on one of these occasions, 
his brown, wrinkled countenance suddenly lit up with 

297 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

pleasure, becomes at once aware that even this man of 
humble calling has it in his power to let in floods of 
light upon the passionate loyalty and affection with 
which Francis-Joseph inspires high and low in his vast 
Household and vaster dominions. 

Whenever the Emperor re-enters the Hofburg, after 
an absence of more or less duration, he makes a point 
of greeting all those old servants who have been so long 
near him, with a certain whimsical and very amusing 
assumption of surprise at finding them still at their 
respective posts. 

"So we meet again, old friend!" he usually says in his 
crisp tones, raising his eyebrows slightly with droll aston- 
ishment and with a mischievous flicker in his wonder- 
fully youthful eyes as he appears to ponder. "Let me 
see is it twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years since we 
first became acquainted? I trust you are doing fairly 
well, but you had best be on your guard, none the less, 
else you will soon be as old as I am!" and then he passes 
on, while the favored recipient of this mark of Imperial 
regard, be it a he or a she, remains quite a full minute 
gazing after him with adoring eyes and a smile that 
verges perilously upon the tearful side of joy. 

How he manages it I am lamentably unable to ex- 
plain, but it is a solemn fact that the names and faces 
of his immense retinue of old servants are known to him 
as if they belonged to his family. Stadler, the head 
cellarer; Bernhardt, the French head-chef ; Franz Eff en - 
berger, the famous Viennese confectioner; the imposing 
and superb Joseph Schlogel, who watches at the outer 
palace door leading to the Sovereign's private apart- 
ments, gorgeous in the glory of his gold-edged livery, 
broad baldric supporting a sword of office, plumed 
cocked hat, long "baton" (surmounted by a crown and 
orb, upon which rests a double-headed eagle of gold), 

298 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 







knee-breeches and silken hose revealing the finest pair 
of calves in Vienna and all the other old palace-em- 
ployees, whether they belong to one or the other de- 
partment of the Maison de I'Empereur, can truthfully 
boast of being personally known, liked, and individually 
appreciated by their kindly, large-hearted master. 

In his present loneliness the Emperor finds no greater 
consolation than to withdraw to the three rooms which 
are most pecularly his own, his bedroom, his study, and 
a little "salon," all opening into each other, and where 
it is understood that he is to remain completely un- 
disturbed and unmolested. 

None know better than he how exceeding great is the 
impatience for solitude of the bereaved, and with what 
febrile vehemence the smitten heart longs for peace and 
silence, nor to what improbable lengths hours and min- 
utes can stretch themselves for those condemned to be 
deprived of such boons. 

This suite of apartments is furnished with almost dis- 
concerting simplicity. There is nothing Imperial in the 
long, narrow, sleeping chamber, where the plain, service- 
able chairs and tables, and the small, iron camp-bed 
seem almost to apologize for their humble appearance. 
The walls are, however, absolutely covered with por- 
traits in oil and water colors, photographs, and quaint, 
touching little souvenirs of those he loves and has loved. 
Here hang a dozen pictures, at least, of the Empress, 
taken at various periods of her life, also a score or more 
representing the late Crown-Prince, Archduchess Gisela, 
Archduchess Marie -Valerie, and her numerous babies, 
etc. Scattered among them are some primitive sketches 
due to the first artistic efforts of his children and grand- 
children, also, carefully preserved under glass, several 
old-fashioned "samplers," embroidered fifty years ago 
by "the little Rose of Possenhofen," and a bouquet of 

399 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

pressed mountain blossoms gathered for him by her 
little hand during the first days of her engagement to 
him, at which he gazes, hungry-eyed, striving to pierce 
the mists of the past, and to remember every small in- 
cident, every insignificant detail, of that happy, hopeful 
time. 

Beside the bed a velvet prie-dieu, embroidered by 
Elizabeth with pale pansies and lilies, supports, on its 
high, carved arm-rest, a Book of Hours, from which de- 
pend the delicately painted ends of a broad, satin rib- 
bon marker, executed by Archduchess Sophia, while 
above it, fastened to the wall, is a curious little crucifix 
fashioned of rough wood by the infant hand of "Rudi" 
at the instigation and with the help of his grandfather, 
Archduke Franz-Karl. 

Life for those who have left hope behind them, take 
it as you will, is just an incubus, and language fails one 
to convey any notion of how heavily it weighs on the 
shoulders of Francis- Joseph. Such sorrows as his merely 
glance away from the young and reserve their serious 
ravages for the old, to whom Nepenthe is impossible, 
and who, in their helpless pain, dumbly cry to fate, " Why 
have you done these things to me?" 

The Emperor's study is somewhat more luxurious 
than the bedroom. At any rate, it is vast and lofty; 
also, it is rather sombre. The walls are hung with dark 
and darker amaranth tapestry, in vertical stripes, " ton 
sur ton," and there is a thick, dark -red carpet upon 
the floor. Immediately against the great, square desk 
stands, on a ponderous easel, and massively framed in 
pale gold, the celebrated portrait of Empress Elizabeth 
by Winterhalter. Deep arm-chairs, upholstered in ama- 
ranth brocade, a few tables, cabinets, and bookcases, 
and two or three fine paintings, among which is a su- 
perb "Crucifixion," complete the unostentatious ar- 

300 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

rangement of this room, where so many important docu- 
ments are signed daily, and where Francis-Joseph is so 
often found, already at work, before sunrise. One of 
the tall windows opening upon a balcony is that which 
he throws open, whenever the weather permits, in order 
to listen for a few minutes to the music played by the 
" Hofkapelle " (Imperial band) in the wide, stone-paved 
court-yard of the Hofburg below. 

It is astonishing what men will prize, what men will 
treasure! Emperor Francis-Joseph, for example, prizes 
and treasures above all his magnificent art collections 
ay, above the very Regalia which has descended to him in 
its glittering splendor through a long course of centuries, 
a couple of drawerfuls of short letters, in a cabinet hard 
by, written in a rather large, not remarkably legible 
hand, by his only son, and a couple more drawerfuls 
penned on pale-gray paper, on the left-hand upper cor- 
ner of which a tiny Imperial crown is embossed in sil- 
ver, curiously interlaced with the initial "E." From 
these last-mentioned there is still to be detected just a 
trace, just the faintest reminder of the delicate perfume 
vague, elusive, and exquisitely personal and intimate 
with which everything Empress Elizabeth wore or 
touched has remained impregnated. 

How many times has the lonely old man read and 
reread those closely penned, satiny sheets, think you? 
How many times, since the days when all hope of sun- 
shine went out of his life for good and aye, when his 
mental atmosphere became sluggish and suffocating, as 
if it had yielded up its vital principle, and the sable 
cloud of an unfathomable grief spread with awful rapid- 
ity over his heaven. 

It may not be quite right, quite fair, to reveal in print 
such little secrets, but biographers are the most un- 
principled of people, I fear, Us prennent leur bien ou Us 

301 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIR-E 

le trouvent, nor do they deem that it is right to carry 
delicacy too far, for some biographies are certain to be 
heart - rending even if they be written with the most 
praiseworthy and unequalled discretion. 

Nor is it a very great crime, after all, to picture things 
and feelings which are the constant companions, the 
witnesses of such a man's life phases of himself which 
have remained hidden hitherto and which should now 
be told because they not only are rich in precious revela- 
tions of a character extraordinarily fine, but because 
they express him in an aspect which would otherwise 
never become known outside of his immediate family 
circle, an aspect hitherto quite concealed by the con- 
ventional barriers stretched between a personage of his 
lofty rank and the rest of the world. 

And though I am at times possessed by a sense of 
what I cannot but call the liberty I am taking in em- 
bodying my knowledge of him in a published book, for 
all who read to carp at, yet, on the other hand, it seems 
that the real wrong would be to withhold that great, 
strange chapter of his private life, which shows how 
wrongly and unfairly he has often been judged. 

A family man par excellence, Francis -Joseph fairly 
worships Archduchess Marie-Valerie's children, and also 
his bonnie young Heir Presumptive, the eldest son of 
that remarkably handsome man, Archduke Otto, and 
of the charming Archduchess Maria-Josepha, who now 
holds the position of "First Lady in the Land." 

Young Karl-Franz is growing tall and slender as a 
young fir-tree ; he has his father's magnificent eyes, his 
mother's sweetness of expression, and is very manly 
and well developed for his sixteen years. He rides ex- 
tremely well, and, generally speaking, flatters the amour 
propre of his Imperial great-uncle, who likes well, indeed, 
the boldness and ardor the lad displays in all physical 

302 



A % KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

exercises. The uttermost he wishes for him is that he 
should grow up a frank, brave, honest man, so as to 
become in time a good Monarch; and meanwhile the 
boy is happy, full of fun and merry pranks, devoted to 
his gentle mother, whom he treats with unconscious but 
touching chivalry, proud of his dashing, splendid-look- 
ing father, and seeing in the Emperor himself the em- 
bodiment of all human perfection. 

The clamor, the disputes, the wrong-doings of the 
world are as yet closed letters to him, and he cares but 
little for his own fate or his own future, great and 
glorious though it is likely to be, for the children of his 
uncle, Archduke Francis-Ferdinand, the present heir to 
the Dual Crown, and of Countess Sophia Chotek, now 
Princess von Hohenberg, his morganatic wife, are ex- 
cluded from all rights of succession to the Throne. 

Few possess the gift of arousing and of retaining 
affection and loyalty to the same degree as does the 
Emperor. As I let my pen run swiftly on to the 
names of some of those who have most deeply felt this 
power and have acknowledged it with a life-long de- 
votion, I assume no rose-colored spectacles, but write 
what really is, with the aid of no illusive glamour. 

His oldest companion and comrade was the late Count 
Taaffe, an Austrian, who was also an Irish peer, and of 
whom I have already made mention on two or three oc- 
casions. When he died the Emperor bitterly lamented 
this to himself wellnigh irreparable loss, for the Count 
was not only the associate of youthful days, but also the 
trusty counsellor of later years, a faithful, honest man, 
gaunt of figure, and with a face plain, indeed, but prepos- 
sessing by its frank candor, its constant good-humor and 
expression of keen, alert, indomitable cleverness. He 
certainly was an adept in the difficult art of dealing with 
the turbulent Austrian Diet, and of bending it to what he 

33 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

knew to be the policy of the Emperor, whose wishes alone 
he consulted and endeavored to fulfil. He was also one of 
the most peculiar looking men in Vienna. Aquiline feat- 
ures, a long, narrow head, black hair, worn rather long, 
falling to the collar of a strangely cut, old gray frock-coat, 
which he invariably wore, and an odd-looking high silk 
hat, perched on the back of his head, made up a tout en- 
semble which was a perfect gold-mine to the Viennese 
caricaturists, who were never tired of portraying him, as 
well as his old coachman, who was almost as well-known 
a character at the Austrian capital as the Count himself. 

This worthy Jehu, who ordered around his illustri- 
ous master in the most amusing fashion, had been in 
his service for many years. He trimmed his hair in 
the same peculiar manner as the Count, wore the same 
kind of "tile," perched on the very back of his head, 
and when not in livery was usually arrayed in one of 
Taaffe's old gray frock-coats. Indeed, the resemblance 
between master and man was so striking as to be posi- 
tively ludicrous, and constituted one of the stock jokes 
of the Viennese comic papers. 

Another member of the then Prime-Minister's house- 
hold, who was scarcely less well known than his famous 
coachman, was his dog, "Moppi," the most remarkable 
poodle in the Empire, and certainly more popular than 
Prince Bismarck's Reichshund. 

"Moppi" was for many years the constant and in- 
separable companion of the Count, and was probably 
acquainted with more State secrets than any other dog 
in Europe, for he used to sit solemnly on a chair in a 
corner of the Prime-Minister's room at the palace, where 
the Cabinet Councils were held and audiences were re- 
ceived, with a look of truly statesman -like sagacity on 
his clever and intelligent face. 

Unfortunately, "Moppi's" official decorum and unim- 

304 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

peachable conduct in official matters did not extend to 
his private life, which was characterized by numerous 
indiscretions, and as soon as night set in this light- 
hearted canine was wont to cast aside the cares of office 
and become one of the gayest dogs in Vienna. 

It was during one of these midnight excursions that 
he was mauled and torn by rival Don Juans and re- 
ceived fatal injuries, to which he succumbed, although 
tenderly nursed by the Prime -Minister of Austria and 
by the Countess, his wife, one of the greatest ladies of 
the Empire. 

"Moppi" lies buried in one of the prettiest corners 
of the park surrounding the Count's beautiful country 
seat at Ellisch, and the tombstone that marks his grave 
bears the following inscription: '"Moppi,' the favorite 
of all," and was always surrounded by a beautiful bed 
of flowers. 

The late Count Julius Andr^ssy, too, was an invalu- 
able man to the Emperor, who used to pat him on the 
shoulder and exclaim appreciatingly, in allusion to the 
Count's fighting on the side of the Hungarian rebels, 
which necessitated his escaping from the country to 
save his neck: " How glad I am that I did not hang you 
in '49!" 

He was not only an extraordinarily able statesman, 
but simply and intrinsically a great man. Rather 
tall, very slender, and endowed with one of those 
physiognomies so lively and so expressive of wit that 
the absence of what is generally called good looks is 
not regretted or even observed, he was a privileged 
person at Court, brusque, sometimes sans facon also, 
but so overflowing with true Esprit that his mere en- 
trance into a room seemed to banish care and weari- 
ness. 

Such was Julius Andrassy plucky, dashing, always 
3 o S 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

"on deck," never jaded, never bored, but ever looking 
as if life were the pleasantest comedy that could be 
played, and as if sorrow and anxiety could not withstand 
his caustic humor and wonderful talent for seeing 
the pleasantest side of things, whatever came to pass. 

But let me proceed from the dead to the living, to some 
of those gray -haired men who are still at their posts, and 
whose whole devotion to the Emperor, far from diminish- 
ing with time, has increased with every passing year. 

General-of-Cavalry Count Paar, who is the Emperor's 
principal aide-de-camp, as well as the chief of his Mili- 
tary Household, and who is more constantly at his side 
than any other member of his suite, is perhaps the one 
person who enjoys to a greater degree than any one 
else the confidence of his Imperial Master. 

Tall, with an air of extreme distinction and an ex- 
pression at once slightly melancholy and a trifle cynical, 
he bears himself somewhat listlessly and indolently a la 
surface, but his handsome eyes can flash glances which 
search the inmost soul of others, and his absolute sin- 
cerity of character and of utterance is known to the 
whole country. His impassive calm, his punctilious 
courtesy, and his unalterable serenity are proverbial, 
as is also his keen knowledge of the world and of social 
and Court etiquette. The life of incessant activity and 
change to which he is subjected is never permitted to 
ruffle his temper in the slightest. The busy months 
that he spends with the Emperor at Vienna, the con- 
tinual changes from Schonbrunn to Godollo, Ischl, 
Prague, or Ebensee, according to the duty or necessity 
of the moment, the visits to foreign Courts, the fa- 
tiguing weeks spent in attending the great autumnal or 
spring manoeuvres, the everlasting succession of fttes 
in which he is forced to take part, do not shake his im- 
perturbability in the least, and this in itself makes him 

306 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

indispensable. Everywhere his tall, commanding figure 
and finely modelled face are to be seen at the Emperor's 
shoulder, while his knack of saying things gracefully, 
and his total lack of hypocrisy, give all those who come 
in contact with him a sense of bien etre and of confidence. 
Nor is what I say of him conventional compliment ; it is 
the genuine expression of a very universal opinion, to 
which I am glad to add the tribute of an old and sincere 
personal regard. 

Prince Rudolph Lichtenstein, the present Grand- 
Master -of -the -Court, is also a great favorite with the 
Emperor and an exceedingly handsome man, ce qui ne 
gdte rien. Gallant, courageous, and generous, he was 
the principal cavalier of the late Empress, and was in- 
trusted with the mission of accompanying her to Eng- 
land and Ireland when she went there to hunt. His 
attachment to Francis-Joseph, who holds him in the 
highest esteem, is deep and unswerving. 

Prince Hugo Dietrichstein, one of the Emperor's favor- 
ite aides-de-camp, is a tall, graceful officer, remarkable 
for the most winning smile and the courtliest bow to be 
found throughout the Empire. He is also extremely well 
favored, and, like most Austrian aristocrats, excellent- 
ly versed in all sports. 

I perceive that if I indulge myself in any more de- 
scriptions of the Emperor's entourage I will be carried 
far further than I intend, space being now, at the last, 
a matter of some importance; but I cannot close this 
little gallery of pen-portraits without a passing mention 
of F. M. L. Baron von Beck, now Chief -of -Staff, and one 
of the finest soldiers in Austria. He carries his grizzled 
head with that air which almost invariably bespeaks 
authority, and looks out over the Imperial armies 
from his great height as over a fine standing crop, 
the grain of which he can, at a sign, gather within the 

30? 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

hollow of his hand and distribute where it is most 
needed. 

This notable man has friends everywhere, and few 
enough enemies to have given rise to the report that he 
has none though that would be but a poor and un- 
truthful compliment to pay to one of such worth as he. 

To his credit, also, be it noted that he is one of those 
military leaders who, possessed of a slow tongue and a 
quick brain than which there are few better equip- 
ments for a soldier has won the affection of all those 
who serve or have served under his orders. 

Among those belonging to his family, and upon whom 
the love and affection of the Emperor is more particu- 
larly centered, is his granddaughter, Archduchess Eliza- 
beth, "Erzsi," as she is familiarly called, the only child 
of his deeply mourned son, " Rudi," and who was brought 
up under his personal care and supervision. Indeed, 
the Emperor managed to find time even to direct her 
studies and to devise her pleasures, and manifested so 
great a jealousy of the trust confided to him by his 
boy in the matter that he would not allow the child's 
mother to take her anywhere out of his dominions, nor 
yet to have any voice in the selection of little "Erzsi's " 
Household. 

Moreover, when the seventeen-year-old girl lost her 
heart to a young cavalry officer, Prince Otto Windisch- 
Graetz, the Emperor, after a violent struggle with his 
ambition for her, rather than stand in the way of her 
happiness, authorized her to make the marriage she 
desired, and richly dowered her, although the bridegroom, 
far from being of Imperial or Royal rank, did not even 
belong to the Mediatized Families of Europe, but merely 
to one of the great Houses of the Austrian Nobility. 

The young Archduchess is, I hear, exceedingly happy 
in her married life ; and the union has also been fortunate 

308 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

in a political sense, as it has put an end, once and for 
all time, to those projects of the Separatists, or other 
trouble-makers in Hungary's Parliament, who put her 
forward as their candidate for the Throne of Hungary 
on the death of the grandfather, to whom she is so 
passionately devoted. 

Her wedding was, as customary in the case of that of 
every Princess of the Imperial House of Habsburg, pre- 
ceded by what is known at Vienna as the Act of Re- 
nunciation. 

So much misconception exists, not only abroad, but 
even in Austria, with regard to this ceremony of re- 
nunciation that it may be just as well to explain what 
it really means. 

Placing her hand upon the Gospels, and in the pres- 
ence of the Emperor, of the members of the Imperial 
Family, and of the principal dignitaries of the Realm, 
the bride-elect takes a vow to renounce all claim to 
the precedence, rank, and rights to the Throne, which 
may have been hers by birth, in order to share those of 
her husband. And as Prince Otto Windisch-Graetz did 
not belong to the Imperial Family, is a mere Noble, and 
can never, even by the most remote possibility, be called 
upon to succeed to the Crowns of Austro-Hungary> 
Archduchess Elizabeth virtually renounced every pros- 
pect to a Throne which she had until then possessed. 

The succession to the Throne in Austro-Hungary is 
governed partly by the Pragmatic Sanction and partly 
by those "Family Statutes" of the House of Habsburg, 
the tenor of which cannot be disclosed, those personages 
not belonging to the reigning family who are acquainted 
therewith, such as the Minister of the Imperial House- 
hold, being bound, by the most solemn and iron-clad 
oath, not to reveal their tenor or their range. 

The Pragmatic Sanction itself is, of course, no secret. 

39 



A KEYSTONE OP EMPIRE 

It was promulgated as far back as the reign of Emperor 
Charles VI. of Germany, the last descendent in the male 
line direct of the House of Habsburg, and consists of a 
treaty or agreement between the Austrian and Hun- 
garian moieties of his dominions, providing not only for 
their perpetual union but likewise for the succession to 
the Magyar Crown. Until that time the Hungarian suc- 
cession had been governed by the laws of primogeniture, 
women as well as men being capable of inheriting the 
Crown. 

Charles knew that, according to this provision, his 
daughter, Maria-Theresia, would, in default of male is- 
sue, immediately become Queen of Hungary upon his 
death. He apprehended, however, that obstacles would 
be raised to her becoming Empress of Germany, that 
is to say, Ruler of the Austrian and German portions of 
his dominions, and so caused it to be stipulated in the 
Pragmatic Sanction that Austria and Hungary should 
always be united and always ruled by one and the same 
Sovereign. 

On his death, his daughter, Maria-Theresia, became 
immediately Queen Regnant of Hungary, and on the 
strength of this Pragmatic Sanction laid immediate claim 
to the Imperial Throne of Germany, a pretension which 
was denied by a number of German Sovereigns, including 
Frederick the Great of Prussia and the Elector of Bavaria. 
Indeed, it was not until after many sanguinary wars that 
she ultimately secured a species of compromise, by means 
of which her husband, Duke Charles of Lorraine, was 
elected and recognized as Emperor of Germany. 

Kossuth and the Separatists in Austria deny the ex- 
istence of this Pragmatic Sanction, declare that no copy 
of it can be found in the State Archives at Pesth, and 
even go so far as to insist that if there is really such a 
document in existence the Hungarian signatures there- 




A FUTURE EMPEROR. ARCHDUKE KARL-FRANZ, 

SOX OF THE HEIR-PRESUMPTIVE, 

ARCHDUKE OTTO 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

to are forgeries. Were there any foundation to this pre- 
posterous assertion, which, I regret to state, is credit- 
ed by many of their adherents, Archduchess Elizabeth 
would, save for her act of renunciation, have become 
entitled to the Crown of Hungary on her grandfather's 
death, whereas the Throne of Austria, from which wom- 
en were barred by the Salic law, would have gone to 
the present Heir Apparent, Archduke Francis - Ferdi- 
nand. 

Every now and again the question of these mysterious 
" Family Statutes " of the House of Habsburg crops 
up in the national legislatures at Vienna and Buda- 
Pesth, in spite of all the endeavors of the presiding 
officers and the ministers present to prevent any dis- 
cussion thereof. 

The last time this occurred it was in connection with 
the solemn act of renunciation by the Heir Apparent, 
Archduke Francis-Ferdinand, of all rights of succession 
to the Throne of Austro-Hungary for the children born 
of his morganatic marriage with Countess Sophie Chotek. 

On that occasion the Hungarian Ministers, in claim- 
ing for the Archduke the right to renounce, in the name 
of any children that he might have, their succession to 
the Crown, declared that his act of renunciation was in 
conformity with the " Family Statutes " of the House of 
Habsburg. Thereupon several members of the Opposi- 
tion protested that, in as much as the " Family Statutes " 
of the House of Habsburg did not figure in the national 
code of the Kingdom of Hungary, and had never been 
sanctioned by either of the houses of the national legis- 
lature at Buda-Pesth, which were, indeed, wholly igno- 
rant of their character, they could not be regarded as 
bearing upon the situation, or as exempting Francis- 
Ferdinand from that provision of the Magyar code which 
precludes parents from renouncing in the name of their 

3" 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

children, born or unborn, rights, prerogatives, or pos- 
sessions to which their offspring would become entitled. 

No vote was taken about the matter, the discussion 
was allowed to drop, and it is not probable that it will 
be revived, for the animosity in Hungary towards the 
Czechs is so intensely bitter that not even the most rabid 
of Magyar Separatists would venture to put forward as 
a candidate for the throne of St. Stephen any child of 
Countess Chotek, who is a Czech. 

The secrecy and likewise the rigor of these " Family 
Statutes " of the House of Habsburg have something in 
common with those laws that govern secret societies in 
the United States and in the Orient. It has been by 
virtue of their provisions that the Emperor has deprived 
his kinsmen, the Archdukes John and Leopold-Salvator, 
of their Imperial titles and prerogatives, reducing them 
from the status of Princes of the Blood to that of mere 
commoners, the one as John Orth, and the other as 
Leopold Wolfling. While the causes which led the Em- 
peror to take this action with regard to Archduke Leo- 
pold are of recent and very universal knowledge, no one 
even at the Court of Austria knows definitely the exact 
reasons which led to this measure in the instance of 
Archduke John, who, although one of the most brilliant 
members of the Imperial Family, was suddenly expelled, 
not only from that family, but also from the Empire, as 
well as commanded to take a plebeian name and to dis- 
appear. 

Princesses, too, have experienced the severity of these 
" Family Statutes " of the House of Habsburg, the case 
of the ex-Crown Princess of Saxony, who has been tem- 
porarily deprived by the Emperor of the status, rank, 
and prerogatives of an Archduchess, which she inherit- 
ed at her birth, being, doubtless, fresh in the memory 
of all. 

312 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Austrians are, without the possibility of a doubt, the 
best riders and finest sportsmen in the world, and 
Ffancis- Joseph is one of the most perfect horsemen and 
sportsmen of his Empire. 

I saw him once, at the finish of an extraordinarily 
swift run with the hounds, come scatheless through a 
misadventure which would have proved fatal to ninety- 
nine and a half out of a hundred. 

His left stirrup-leather gave way and broke, and, at 
the pace we were going, few, indeed, would have escaped 
being hurled out of the saddle, but he scarcely swerved, 
and, hardly checking his horse to recover his equilibrium, 
went on as if nothing had happened, his knees pressed a 
bit closer into his hunter's flanks, thundering along, half- 
stirrupless, with the utmost unconcern. 

Nothing rebuts him in sport, and I have often ad- 
mired his exemplary patience as I watched him plodding 
conscientiously after a sly old dog fox (that led the pack 
a tedious wind in and out, through an interminable 
spinney, and dodged about till twilight and rain fell upon 
us in exasperating unison), smiling as good-humoredly 
as if we were having one of the glorious hours of cross- 
country racing, over fence and fallow, in a delicious clip- 
ping rush, without a check from find to finish. 

He is careless of hail or rain, mire or slush, mist or 
cold, snow, darkness, or frost, so long as there is a fine, 
scenting wind, for there is not a man, I believe, who loves 
hunting as he does, and yet no rider was ever gentler 
and kinder to his horses than this ardent sportsman who 
is so dashing and fiery in the field. 

The Imperial stables, now under the supervision of 
Count Kinsky, husband of Archduchess Marie Valerie's 
girlhood friend, Princess Aglae Auersperg, are superb. 
There the horses are quartered en princes, their blank- 
ets, hoods, and quarter-pieces marked with the Imperial 

3*3 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

crown and cipher, and their names blazoned in blue 
and gold above their daintily nickelled mangers ; and it is 
a joy forever to see the splendid animals, firm of muscle 
beneath their shining, satiny skins, with their beautiful, 
small, lean heads, their delicate, nervously twitching, 
taper ears, their clean, slender, dainty legs, turning their 
velvety eyes lovingly towards the tall figure of the Em- 
peror as soon as his step sounds upon the marble aisle 
dividing the luxurious loose-boxes. 

Also, Francis- Joseph is immensely fond of a good 
tramp through wood, stubble, and furrow, a gun thrown 
within the crook of his arm, and looking keenly about 
him for partridge, rabbit, quail, or pheasant, but he dis- 
likes battues, which, like all true and loyal disciples of 
Nimrod, he considers mere butchery, only consenting to 
attend them when a foreign Sovereign visits him, and 
such a display is de rigueur, though he denounces it as 
"the prose of shooting," and that with sincere disgust. 

He is a great votary of both flat and steeple-chase 
racing, and makes a point of being present at the Freu- 
denau spring and autumn meetings, especially when 
"gentlemen riders" or officers are in the saddle, and he 
is so excellent a judge of such matters that the mere 
turn of the foot in a stirrup tells him the exact amount 
of science possessed by a jockey, whether professional or 
otherwise. 

His eyes still shine with enthusiasm when the saddling- 
bell sounds, when the ring is in its full rush of excite- 
ment, and the great brotherhood of the turf crowds to- 
gether to see the start, and follows the favorites, with 
cheers and groans, as the case may be, over the stiff 
fences, the terrible blackthorn hedges, the double post- 
and-rails, and the artificial wall and bullfinches, for 
which the Freudenau course is celebrated, and which 
treat many to a purler; and although he would be 

314 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

satisfied, perchance, to see the obstacles tamed down a 
little for others, it is certain, too, that for himself he 
Would absolutely refuse to let them be touched, had he, 
as he calls it, the luck of running steeple-chases. Every- 
body rejoices to see him there, and affectionate glances 
follow his tall form as he moves to his place in the Im- 
perial tribune, which centres the grand-stand, at the 
very minute when the bell clangs and clashes passion- 
ately, and the names of the horses are hoisted on the 
telegraph board. 

Many of those present think, too, of the slender, 
lovely Empress who used almost always to accompany 
him on such occasions, looking like a white camellia in 
her plain, sombre, tailor-made costume, smiling, radi- 
ant, and full of racing interest, as became the best 
horsewoman in Europe, while watching the desperate, 
neck - breaking efforts of the steeple - chasers with her 
deep, luminous, enthusiastic eyes, as the queens in olden 
days watched the fierce tournaments of the lists. 

The best shot, the best horseman, and the keenest 
hunter of his Empire, Francis- Joseph, although past his 
seventieth year, still braves the white fall of those slow, 
softly descending Alpine snow-feathers which the chamois 
use as a veil of preservation, and exposes himself, quite 
undaunted, to the dense fogs of autumn and to the sud- 
den plunge into frost which a mountaineer, such as he, 
is well aware that he will encounter on the spurs of the 
high ranges. 

He knows his way, inch by inch, along those dangerous 
passes, and at night is quite content to find a bed of hay, 
a fire of pine branches, a meal of bread and cheese, and 
a rough shelter in one of the huts of refuge, erected by 
his orders and by those of the Empress, in places where 
there is barely a precarious foothold around the tiny 
wooden buildings. 

3*5 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

His well-knit frame resists the influence of the cruel 
air that can slay as surely as can a knife, and the cold 
that makes the body numb and the veins swell painfully, 
almost as well now as it did twenty-five years ago; and, 
gripping his "Alpenstock" in one hand and his rifle in 
the other, he climbs, stoutly and fearlessly, clad in the 
Jager's plain, serviceable gray -and -green "Joppe" and 
breeches that leave the knee bare rejoicing to be still 
able to match his strength and shrewd mountaineer's 
wisdom against the perilous bastions, walls, and peaks 
of his dear old friends, the Tyrolese, Upper Austrian, and 
Styrian Alps. 

The shooting-box of Murzsteg, built by himself in one 
of the loveliest spots in the Styrian Alps, is, perchance, 
dearer to his heart than any of the gorgeous Imperial 
residences which have been his since his eighteenth year. 
The forests that surround Murzsteg are magnificent. 
The great trees rise from a wilderness of fragrant under- 
growth and mountain-flowers, through which indescrib- 
ably charming little by-paths seem to feel their way, 
winding cautiously this way and that, now emerging 
suddenly into the full sunlight of some open glade, and 
now plunging back again into the rich, sweet depth of 
shadow and the gloom of densely interlacing boughs, 
where the silence is alone disturbed by the full, fresh 
sound of running waters, the scamper of a hare, or the 
feathery whir of brightly tinted wings. Close by rushes 
the Miirz River, eternally white with foam, and through 
the branches of the veteran timber the lofty peaks of the 
" Hohe-Veitsch," the " Hocheck," and the " Kreuzwand " 
shine like jewels, whether they are crowned with dazzling 
summer lightning or powdered with fast-advancing au- 
tumn snows. 

The whole region round about, both the forest -lands 
and the broad, intervening stretches of rosy heather and 

316 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

golden broom, is alive with birds and woodland creatures, 
and so surprisingly rich in game, including black-cock, 
mountain-cock, chamois, and deer, that it is a veritable 
paradise for sportsmen. Yet the arrival of large hunt- 
ing parties seems almost a profanation of this quaint 
and delightful retreat, with its ice-blue waters and 
encircling mountains, so full of peace and solemn 
grandeur. 

The interior of the house is extremely artistic, espe- 
cially in the sense that it is that of a hunting-box and 
nothing else, thanks to the Emperor's taste and keen 
sense of the fitness of things. The floors and walls are of 
light and dark wood, and are ornamented in several in- 
stances with exquisite marqueterie work in designs of 
ferns, pine cones, and branches, oak leaves, and other 
forest treasures. The hall, which has a southern expos- 
ure, is decorated from floor to ceiling with hunting 
trophies. From a rosace in the centre depends a huge 
vulture shot some years ago by the Emperor; before 
one of the windows a wild-cat, almost as big as a puma 
a victim to Crown-Prince Rudolf's rifle a short time be- 
fore his death stands in a menacing attitude, clawing 
at a rough tree-trunk, and above the carved, wooden 
mantel-piece a score of beautifully mounted chamois' 
heads are grouped about that of an unusually splendid 
"stag of ten." 

On the ground floor, beside the hall, the dining, smok- 
ing, and billiard rooms, are eight bedrooms for the Em- 
peror's suite. Immediately above are the apartments 
of the Emperor himself, those of his guests, and also those 
once used by the Empress and by "Rudi," which are 
still kept exactly as they were during the lifetime of the 
occupants. All the furniture, both in the guest-rooms 
and the Imperial suites, is made of a light, dainty, Amer- 
ican juniper, and everywhere are to be admired the ex- 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

quisite wood-carvings of the gifted sculptor, Franz Wag- 
ner. 

As is always the case, the Emperor's rooms are the 
simplest of all; so much so, indeed, that when the Ger- 
man Kaiser last came to visit him at Murzsteg Francis- 
Joseph, who had made a point of vacating them for him, 
said to his confidential valet, with a little apologetic smile : 

"You had better go down-stairs and bring up a few 
things to make the place a little more Imperial!" 

Above his bed hang twin, carved frames, the one con- 
taining the following charming little poem, written by 
Archduchess Marie Valerie, at the age of fourteen, to 
celebrate her mother's birthday, which falls on Christ- 
mas Eve. The figure of an angel standing on a cloud and 
holding a newly born baby adorns the upper corner of 
the manuscript, while below the signature is a remark- 
ably good little sketch of Schloss Possenhofen, all furred 
with Christmas snow. 

Weihnacht wieder! Hart gefroren 

Liegt der stille See, 
Und im Sonnenscheine glitzert 

Rings der frische Schnee. 

In dem lieblich trauten Schlosse 

Das am Ufer steht 
Heut* ein Hauch von susser Freude 

Durch die Herzen weht. 

Denn ein Engel stieg vom Himmel 

Leise in der Nacht 
Hat als schonste Weihnachts' gabe 

Tochterlein gebracht. 

Und die Jahre fliegen leise 

Aber rasch dahin 
Und die Eltern sehn mit Freude 

Sie zur Jungfrau bliihn 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

Driiben herrscht ein junger Kaiser 

In dem Nachbarland 
Als er's Magdlein kennen lernte 

Freit' er ihre Hand 

Und nun gehen sie durch's Leben 

Liebend seit an seit 
S'Magdlein bleibet Ihrem Manne 

Treu in Freud' und Leid. 

Und wenn auf des Kaiser's Haupte 

Manchmal driickt die Kron' 
1st fur seine Muh'n und Sorgen 
Sie der schonste Lohn! 

VALERIE. 
Weihnachten, 1882. 

The other frame contains an exquisite water-color 
sketch of Empress Elizabeth as she appeared at a Court 
ceremony for the first and only time after Crown-Prince 
Rudolph's tragic death. None who saw her on that 
evening will ever forget the impression her entrance cre- 
ated, and I can do no better than to quote what a friend 
wrote to me about it at the time: 

' ' The Redouten Saal was transformed into a veritable 
bower of flowers, among which softly gleamed the mel- 
lowness of thousands of wax candles, and total silence 
reigned until the doors were flung open to admit the Im- 
perial party. Leaning on His Majesty's arm, Elizabeth 
looked like a very incarnation of sorrow, but sorrow in 
its most beautiful and strikingly poetical aspect, so that 
one forgot, while gazing at her, the living, pulsating, tort- 
ured, broken heart, and saw only the touching sweetness, 
the pensive mournfulness of her lovely presence. Clad, 
naturally, in deepest black and with a long, sable-hued 
gossamer veil falling from a pointed jet diadem to the 
very edge of her immense Manteau de Cour, she smiled 
faintly now and again as she slowly advanced between 

319 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

the double hedge of her bowing and curtseying guests, 
and I assure you that the expression of her perfect feat- 
ures, of her glorious eyes, was at once so startlingly poig- 
nant and so inexpressibly beautiful that many of those 
present were almost in tears, and found it difficult to con- 
ceal their emotion. Evidently she herself was wonder- 
ing why her life was henceforth to be like this pageant, 
costly, empty, and brilliant, and what she had done to 
deserve such a fate. 

"Her very silence, the defect we all usually found in 
her, suited her extraordinary charm that night, for she 
seemed to embody the stillness, the mystery, the ethere- 
ality of la femme faite Ange de Douleur, et Reine de tous les 
cceurs, and as she inclined her small head, crowned with 
its wealth of tawny braids, towards the groups that bent 
before her, the careless, the frivolous, the happy, the old 
and the young were alike smitten by a sudden pain, a 
bitter regret, a sort of vague anguish." 

The artist to whom is due this amazing aquarelle of 
Elizabeth is a distinguished amateur, who painted it 
from memory the day after witnessing the scene de- 
scribed above, with no other aid than that of some pho- 
tographs of an earlier date ; and yet it is without question 
the finest and most sympathetic portrait ever made of 
her. The Emperor caused several copies of it to be 
made, but the original, as I have said already, hangs 
above his plain, narrow little bed at Murzsteg, and he 
sits often far into the night gazing sorrowfully at it, after 
long hours passed in the splendid mountain and forest 
haunts which they had loved to visit together, in the 
beautiful Alpine autumn of the high ranges. 

And now I will leave off! 

. This book, beginning with an Emperor's babyhood 
and ending with his lonely old age, so courageously and 
nobly endured with, as connecting links between the 

320 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

first budding and the late autumnal tints of this grand 
Imperial tree, many incomplete incidents of his tragic 
life is, alas, but a very inadequate sketch, and gives 
but a very faint conception of what this great and good 
man really is. 

Francis-Joseph has, during the fifty-five long years of 
his reign, gained many titles. He has been called "The 
Good," "The Just," "The Chivalrous," "The Coura- 
geous," "The Noble," and I how permit myself to add 
to this list that of "A Keystone of Empire," which is 
the fittest appellation for the one whom, I repeat, is the 
greatest and best Sovereign Austria has ever known. 

Napoleon III. said of him that he was the only mon- 
arch in Eu,rope who, returning to his capital after defeat, 
disaster, and loss of territory, was welcomed by his peo- 
ple not only with unimpaired loyalty, but even with en- 
hanced devotion, affection, and enthusiasm. His subjects 
retain to this day a fealty which no "progressive" ideas 
can ever wholly banish, a feeling of almost religious 
homage, of surpassing reverence towards their Sovereign, 
which has naught in common with the foolish confusion, 
the disordered, feverish fretting, and carping discontent 
of this age. Cynics might, perchance, attribute this to 
mere climatic influence, set it down as a result of the 
sense of physical well-being due to the air, pure as crystal 
and strong as wine, blowing from the grand Alpine barrier 
of ice and snow which forms on one side a rampart for 
those lands that collectively we are wont to call Austria ; 
those vast stretches of flower-filled meadows where the 
cattle lie luxuriously, of blossoming orchards, of high 
grass slopes, green as emerald, and fragrant pine-woods; 
those broad plains of the North, glittering white and 
frozen half the year, and those shining, sunlit landscapes 
of the southern provinces that throughout the dreariest 
months are rich and red with roses, golden and purple 
'" 321 



A KEYSTONE OF EMPIRE 

with fruit, and rendered stately by tall palms, through 
whose slender stems is caught the soft sparkle of the 
deep-blue sea. 

Be this as it may, the serious, sweet luminance with 
which, as with a halo, the love of his subjects surrounds 
the Emperor is a beautiful and a gracious thing to be- 
hold. So let me also repeat here in conclusion, and from 
the deepest depth of my heart, the first line of the great 
hymn which greets him wherever he appears, whether 
at home or abroad, in moments of sadness or of joy, of 
hope or of despair 

"Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser!" 



THE END 



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